Judgment and Justice in Nigerian Courts

Ogunsakin Mustapha
8 Min Read
Prof Hope Eghagha

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

OJO: Judgment can be given without justice meeting the demands of justice.
AKOMA: What is justice? Is it when your candidate gets judgment in his favour?
OJO: It is not always that verdicts which are given in court meet the bar of justice! It is established across the world!
OREZI: Profound, very profound!
BISHAK: What is profound about that?
OJO: Mallam, you are not likely to understand. This is not ‘malu’ matter!
BISHAK: I take exception to that stereotypical misrepresentation of facts!
AKOMA: Tell him the truth jor! Leading ‘malu’ and governance are two different kettles of fish!
BISHAK: Again, I take exception to your condescending attitude!
OJO: Suit yourself my dear friend! Suit yourself! Enough of this bulls**t in this country!
BISHAK: It is preposterous to argue that because verdict was not given in a particular direction then there was no justice!
OREZI: The mob does not determine justice in the court of law!
BISHAK: That would be jungle justice!
OJO: Is Nigeria not a jungle?
EMEKA: It is a refined jungle, a zoo of sorts! There is a façade of order, of the rule of law, and of commitment to national development. The truth is that too many people in power are committed to their personal development.
OREZI: Blowing the flute and blowing the nose? Hehehehehehe!
OJO: Is that not the way of life? As a doctor, you save lives and save your pocket!
BISHAK: There is a difference. While one promotes the dignity of labour, the other promotes exploitation of the state’s resources!
OJO: I am sure that you are bellyaching over the PEPT verdict on the February 2023 general elections!
EMEKA: You may feel so; but I am concerned with elections and the role of the courts in general. You see, the courts have not engendered confidence through acts of omission and commission. How could a court give judgment in favour of someone who was not on the ballot in the first place? How? How could a court skip the second and third candidates and award victory to the fourth candidate? Such acts send a negative message!
OREZI: Also recall the judge who cried loud in Kano that a Senior Advocate of the Law was trying to induce her to compromise the ends of justice.
AKOMA: That lady deserves an award. I hope the anti-corruption bodies have invited her to reveal more facts about the matter!
BISHAK: There is no doubt that unethical things are going on. I can also add to the list the public assertion which a senator made that his wife a judge gave favourable verdicts on his say-so to his political friends.
OJO: Are these judges not friends and brothers to us? Don’t they socialize with us. Drink with us? Frolic with us sometimes? Worship with us?
AKOMA: Don’t we come from the same villages and towns? Don’t we attend the same town meetings and wedding ceremonies? Don’t their children attend the same schools? Can their salaries meet the obligations which society places on them? Aren’t we expecting too much of these men and women?
EMEKA: That is the point! Most judges have broken the ethical codes of engagement. They live above their means. They attend parties with persons who have matters in their courts. They are members of clubs and associations which expose them unduly. Some are even open sympathizers and supporters of political parties!
OJO: The truth is that these judges are Nigerians. They cannot be different from us. We have all degenerated into the cesspit of corruption and immorality.
OREZI: I beg your pardon! Not all of us. You could say some of us. I still believe that the good persons in the country are more than the corrupt ones! The sad thing is that those who still believe in right and wrong do not count in the scheme of things.
AKOMA: Let us return to how we started this whole matter. Can there be justice in the country?
EMEKA: Are human beings capable of dispensing justice?
OREZI: Of course, justice is a divine attribute which God gave man. It inheres in man. But man has the capacity to twist justice. Sometimes, it depends on the circumstances in the country. Often, individuals determine the level of their commitment to justice. In a country where money is everything, justice can be compromised.
OJO: That is why the system has created an appeals system. At the higher level of the judicial system, there are more guarantees for justice.
EMEKA: Not in this country. Clients pay more now once a matter goes on appeal. Judges should know that the same people who give them money let it out to members of the public. We are told that there are some retired or serving judges who serve as mediators between judges and their bribe- givers. In other words, a client could give out money to a judge without ever physically or virtually meeting them. A retired female judge in the highest court in the land is notorious for this.
OREZI: Let us say what we know, please! A judge serving as bagman for other judges? It is beneath the status of our revered judges!
EMEKA: The hood does not make a monk! Not all who adorn the pastoral garb are real pastors. Too many impostors.
AKOMA: Justice, real justice can only come from God. A man steals; he is charged to court and through legal technicalities, he is not punished. Is that justice?
BISHAK: In other words, a man rigs elections and is declared winner by the electoral umpire; but because it cannot be proved in court, he is declared the winner. By inference, it is not justice.
OREZI: It is justice according to the laws of the land.
AKOMA: Not according to divine law?
OJO: Is our country governed by divine laws?
OJO: I rest!

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