By Bayo Akinlade Esq
Our government’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic was slow and intentionally so.
A virus that entered our nation through those who could afford to travel was visited on the innocent poor and many others.
Through no fault of theirs, COVID responses, directives and enforcement was meted on the less previleged more than any other class of society
Directives upon directives, regulations upon regulations, creating all manner of obligations upon the citizens, rules to follows in the name of “protecting their lives”
These regulations created obligations and punishments for violators. The cart was put before the horse, crimes that don’t exist, suddenly showed up, enforcement and punishments were the order of the day.
Not those that brought the virus into the country
Not those who sort to protect their vast wealth or power structures
Not those leaving in big mansions, who own private jets or who could afford not to work for weeks
Not those whose jobs were secured no matter the disaster
THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING but the AIR they breathe
THE POLICE/ ENFORCERS
The horror of this whole COVID is not the virus itself but the abuse of power, the indiscriminate arrests, detention and torture of so-called violators of social distancing, not wearing mask, breaking curfew and other regulations put in place to protect lives.
How can you arrest a person for violating a directive only to put that person in the very condition you arrested him for?
Every directive given with respect to arrest and detention were disobeyed by the police without any remedy. What a shame!
*The Courts and the Administration of Justice*
As I belong to this class of people, I say without reservation that WE HAVE FAILED WOEFULLY!
We are happy to criticize within the comfort of our homes, analysing government and condemning actions.
Only a few have made the sacrifice to go out there to fight to protect the dignity of the most vulnerable. Only a few stuck out their necks to speak the truth.
The judiciary allowed itself to be used. Save for some brave Magistrates who will not allow themselves to be manipulated to condone injustices, most simply did what they were told in self preservation….FINE THEM ALL OR PUT THEM TO WORK! Nobody asked the hard questions: Were they GUILTY in the first place?
When did we lawyers become so cold? We stand and do nothing. Most will not fight for justice unless there is a government/ international grant or some fund to back it up. Or for notoriety sake perhaps a few grandstanding and Fundamental human rights proceedings may commence.
The leadership of the Bar and Bench has been the most disconnected bodies during this pandemic. No meeting of minds, no synergies, no collaborative efforts to meet the needs of Justice. The Judiciary sat on its own to draw up guidelines without the input of the Bar…..odd, because the main stakeholders in all of these is the LAWYER AND HIS CLIENT!
It is not too late to make things right.
STOP THE INDISCRIMINATE ARREST, DETENTION AND PROSECUTION OF THE LESS PRIVELEGED
STOP THE CORRUPTION IN THE NAME OF COVID
STOP THE OPPRESSION OF THE WEAK AND VULNERABLE
BE THE SAVIOUR OF THE MASSES NOT ONLY FROM THIS DREADED VIRUS BUT FROM THE VIRUS OF CORRUPTION AND BAD GOVERNANCE
MY CHALLENGE To Judges and Lawyers :
REMEMBER YOUR OATHS!
Mr Akinlade is the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu branch.