JUSTICE ON TRIAL:
MAKING AKWA IBOM STATE A MODEL OF THE AFRICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM
By Eld. Emmanuel Udosen
Growing up during the military era, one of the most indelible memories of my childhood was the model of one Chief Magistrate Uko Enin (other names not known) in Ikot Ekpene LGA. As I write, I recall his residence at Nkap village in the present day No.1, Okonko street, off Cardinal Ekanem Avenue in Ikot Ekpene.
Too many narrations followed our first encounter with this our “infant model” of Justice as a pupil of St. Ann Primary School, Ifuho. One of the most indelible memories was the narration that judges have the power of life and death, a prerogative I later discovered resides with God only. Then we never conceived in our faintest imagination that cases could be appealed where the aggrieved party can exercise the right to fair hearing when he/she is not satisfied with the verdict of one Judge sitting alone. Today I know better.
One of Akwa Ibom rare breeds, Justice Ita Mbaba, succinctly captured the global justice system in his work (not a novel, not a prose, and neither a law text book), but a compendium of wisdom woven into a few pages of a pamphlet for ease of reading and comprehension. The book is titled, “Justice on Trial” from where I borrow the title of this article.
Today I know that the justice system begins and ends with the public impression of what Justice is or should be. Living in a perverse African Society, we watch with awesome wonders how things work in advanced countries and conclude with our mouths that indeed, Africa is a third world continent and we can sincerely opine that Nigeria is a model of African State.
The most critical time in the social justice system is made manifest during transition from one government to another and we can blame the Nigeria military for the backwardness and underdevelopment in Nigeria all we care. Twenty three years down the democratic journey, it is getting clearer that we have a dysfunctional value system where majority of us possess a dysfunctional thinking faculty genetically mutated for backwardness.
Today, some people can barefacedly tell our youths that we prefer certified thieves, rogues and vagabonds in the leadership of our society since, according to them, everybody is a sinner and there is no end in sight for us to correct the wrongs of our forebears who had, inadvertently put us in the present quagmire owing to their wrong leadership choices.
It is only during election periods we see genetically corrupt leaders come out to defend corruption and the masses helplessly applauds them in exchange for a pudding which will mortgage another generation of our children and children yet unborn.
By reason of party affiliation, ethnic or other clandestine affiliations, we are ready to endorse and attempt to justify a decaying system where judges shelf time-tested legal procedures and act on their whims and caprices to satisfy their inordinate nature and that of their evil cronies.
We see people with apparently dysfunctional brains celebrate a strange “virtual” court proceedings which have been conceived, contrived and executed under the cover of night and people rise to defend and justify same as Hi tech innovation.
On 20/1/2023, one of the former PDP aspirants who never came close to wining the party primaries, Mr. Michael Enyong, emerged as submarine with a virtual court judgment purportedly ousting the candidacy of the authentic party flag bearer, Pst. Umo Bassey Eno. People clapped him as a very smart and intelligent politician. Some acclaimed lawyers, academicians and educated people celebrate depravity as a new normal and they are ready to defend anything that will help to oust their common enemy, Dcn. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, who, according to them, has come to disrupt our political status quo ante bellum.
The known practice was that during elections, innocent people were missing, children were abducted and dismembered, babies, virgin girls, albinos, hunchbacks and certain class of persons were meant for political sacrifices because “politics is a dirty game” and must be left for people who have developed capacity to fight dirty, the society tended to believe that was the way to go.
Dcn. Udom Emmanuel is today guilty of coming to align with a few breed of people to say “No” to bloodletting politics and “No” to criminality in the name of politics.
Since after Udom Emmanuel’s hard stance against cultism, Akwa Ibom State has witnessed unprecedented turmoil in the political space where every class of people seek to form alliance to oust him and his moralist’s reformation out of government house.
Today, we have some clerics who were behind the political ritual killings boldly group under a christian formation and rise to fight against what they describe as Dcn. Emmanuel’s discriminatory policy against Akwa Ibomites for simply not allowing leveled playing ground for certified cultists, thieves, rogues and vagabonds to freely exercise themselves in the wrestle for the Hilltop Mansion.
Today, the Judiciary arm of cultists, the bandits, and pathological infamies on legal robes are joining the alliance against the Akwa Ibom people. They have sworn to do everything and anything to ensure that they reverse the yearnings of the Church in Akwa Ibom State which have prayed over the years for God’s intervention in the political affairs of our land.
Today, the Judiciary which was hypothetically adjudged the “last hope of the common man” is descending into the arena of justice and is spewing venomous court orders capable of upturning and upsetting the foundation of moral rectitude laid by the present administration in the State.
Today, our Judges and Magistrates are on trial in the court of public opinion. They have unwittingly been stripped of the legal robe and subjected to trial in the same or even a worse ordeal they subject their accused (or victims) to.
For every perverse judgment, the Judges and Magistrates are writing a script that will decide the fate of their own children and generations yet unborn; and the ultimate Judge is recording detailed evidences of what is done in the quietness of their Chambers.
Today, justice is on trial and Akwa Ibom State is our model of the much touted restoration of a just legal system.
Whatever stuff a man (or woman) is made of has become manifest in the camp to which they choose to identify and lean their support.