My father Samuel was a soldier. Expectedly I grew up around guns. I remember once asking a young soldier to give me a lesson on how the AK-47 works. A good number of the boys I grew up with were drawn to the power of the barrel. They ended up as soldiers and commissioned officers. I was also tempted to take after my father. My father understanding this started very early to plant in my heart the love of books, in other to broaden my horizon and to make me know that all are not born soldiers.
One of the very first books I read as a child was the “Incorruptible Judge’. The name of the author and that of the few characters are now foggy in my memory. But the principles and lessons I learnt from it constitute part of the very core of my person. For by that book the author painted the portrait of who a judge is and should be. For a Judge is not one in title alone, but in title and in character unalloyed. I saw a man who could not be bought and influenced negatively.
For indeed those that conceived the judicial system as we currently have it were inspired by the fact that God is the true Judge. Are not lawyers called ministers in the “temple” of justice? Are our Judges not referred to as “my lords”? Are requests and submission in court not referred to as “prayers”? Clearly it is assumed that Judges are supposed to be true, fair, unbiased and incorruptible.
Unfortunately like almost everything copied from the west and these days the east, the so-called Nigerian factor tends to corrupt things. The recent guilty plea by my former governor in a London court further shed more light on the rot in our judiciary. I am still trying to understand what happened. Clearly our justice system is a big joke.
Having no respect for persons is foremost in the nature of God. This also is expected of any criminal justice system. The scale of justice is calibrated to return the same verdict on the rich and the poor everything being equal. But in Nigeria, the rich and powerful make a mess of the process. This according to scriptures is an abomination unto the Lord.
If our Judges are to be truthful, the rich should get the full wrath of the law if found guilty. For the Lord Jesus said in a certain place that the man that knows more if found guilty should be given many stripes. Instead our system sentenced to death a poor man that stole a car radio and pardoned the powerful politician that stole enough to buy a car factory.
In Nigeria the poor man’s hope for justice might have to wait until the judgement day to be presided by the true Judge of all. Every time I think about the number of people awaiting trial in Nigeria, tears well in my eyes. I read once of a man that spent 15 years in prison awaiting trial for stealing an umbrella. We are all living witnesses to the speed that attends cases that involves high profile individuals.
I cannot but wonder if oath-taking means anything in Nigeria. Lawyers, judges, elected and appointed members of the executive and legislator are supposed to be under oath. They swear in the presence of God and man to do right, but things are but all wrong. Of all the many wrong things suffered by Nigerians the worse is injustice.
The average Nigerian does not want to have anything to do with the court. People will rather suffer wrong than seek help where it cannot be found. The court is supposed to be the last hope for the common man. Hopelessness as despair has taken the place of hope since there is no justice in our land. It’s sad that Nigerians will have to go to London to have justice on cases, like we go abroad to enjoy social amenities like electricity and health care.
My consolation like millions of our people is that there is a court higher than the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He that seats as a Judge in the court of heaven is incorruptible. He will reward everyone according to the works of their hands, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are kings or peasants.
Sunday Ogidigbo is the Lead Pastor at Holyhill Church, Abuja. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @SundayOgidigbo