BreakingNews - The Role of Lawlessness in the Center of the Nigerian Crisis

[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. James C. Agazie reports ] - Nigerians are a fascinating people. We agree. That Nigerians are a lawless bunch is not an exaggeration. To deny Nigeria’s lawlessness as most of our corrupt politicians and I-don’t- care fellow citizens do or to defiantly ask “what about other countries like US and UK” is to dream that, in the flush of dawn, Nigerian sky glowed with empyreal beauty. In Nigeria, although the law is in the books, it is bent so much that it appears either to be neglected or to not exist at all. In the United States, the law reigns supreme; no one is above the law. Even the United States President Obama is under the rule of law. He cannot be above the law or do things the law prohibits. His role is to uphold the Constitution, to encourage enforcement of the law, and to see that the law applies to everyone evenly across the land. He ensures that everyone is respectful of and in obedience to the law.

 

Obama can be impeached and removed from office as assuredly as President-elect Hillary Clinton or Republican frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump if either one is elected would be, even arrested and hauled away to jail if he/she willfully contravenes the law. Can we say the same thing about Buhari? Obasanjo? Surely, the same American law applies to me a Nigerian American  as well as to the U S members of Congress and judiciary. Can we say the same thing about Nigerian laws and their application to all Nigerians, including the politicians, judges, or employees manning our ports and oil refineries? The law is absolute, superlative, extreme, and placed on the highest pedal. For example, Bill Clinton, former United States President, was faced with investigation and possible indictment for trespassing against certain ethical standards.

 

Wrong application of rules has consequences far more devastating than we can imagine. The effect can be dire, portentous, terrible, or horrible. If you are a Nigerian governor known to have been stashing 2 billion dollars of public money in Swiss account, certain consequences will follow. What prevents a secondary school principal from embezzling the entire school fees the students have paid? Managers of the Ports Authority would overcharge customers in addition to seizing property of those refusing to pay the overcharge. Police manning our checkpoints would demand bribes from conductors and kill those who refuse to pay. Prices of garri at Ogbete market would rise when merchants conclude that “government is eating all out money.”

 

You are a Nigerian legislator and you have joined the syndicate of celebrated thieves raiding your country’s treasury and looting public monies . Aren’t you aware that the money you are stealing is beautifying other people’s land while the constituency you are elected to represent is decaying and riddled  with poverty and infectious diseases? Do you mind knowing that after your death from vehicle suicide, cardiac arrest, or kidney failure in an Indian hospital, your children cannot have access to the billions you have dumped at the Swiss Bank?  Know you not that at your death your grave is marked with a song that reads.

 

Here lies a  Nigerian with soul so wasted he never had learned until it’s too late

Money is nothing  when hoarded but creates something when shared with others

It enriches those who receive and those who to others do freely give

None are so rich they can have it all; none so poor they can do without it

It creates happiness at home, goodwill in the nation, and love worldwide

For none can take it when leaving the earth and all must leave it here on earth?

  

 As a small child growing up in Nigeria, I overheard friends often say: “ A thief runs when nobody is pursuing. “What pursues the thief?  The pursuer is guilty conscience, a sense of right and wrong, or the fear of being penalized for transgressing against a code of conduct. The American  law is said to have matchless supremacy. Words used to describe good, equitable laws include: without equal, beyond  compare, unparalleled,  unrivaled, incomparable, perfect, unique, inimitable.   Does the rule of law exist in Nigeria? Yes, it absolutely does exist.  Is the Nigerian law applied evenly across the board? The answer is no. The stark tragedy in the Nigerian context is in the application of the law.

 

You could wager or gamble all the dollars you have in the Bank Of America, including the Naira you have been saving at Equatorial Bank, Lagos,  that most citizens  in Naija know when they contravene or are in breach of laws criminalizing  certain behaviors, such as, bribery, stealing by the taking of property of another or killing by the taking of life of a neighbor, for example. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, most Nigerians refuse to acknowledge the rule of law, or have not been indoctrinated into obeying rules. Nigerians have not been encouraged to assert their legal rights under the law. They are awash in Jungle Law Very regrettably; most Nigerians often notice that the laws promulgated to govern them do not apply equally to each and every citizen just the same. The Nigerian law has incomparable futility or ineffectuality, meaning it is regarded as being inconsequential. It can be stomped in the dust with feet of shameless bribery and unabashed effrontery or impudence, meaning rudeness, disrespect, or audacity.

 

My country Nigeria has every good law on the book, but it takes more than being on the book to have a stable civil society. We need obedience and respect. Was Chief Obasanjo under the law? Is he was, why did he attempt to seek the 3rd term? Is Buhari under the law? If he is, why does he look the other way when Christians arebeing slaughtered by bad Boko boys who gained notoriety after General Buhari lost the elections?

 

 Why must anyone, such as  Nnamdi Kalu, be arrested , detained, and denied  constitutional rights without a speedy trial? Why do some Muslims arrogate to themselves the vicious temerity to attempt to convert Nigerian to a Sharia Law state when the country is 50 percent Christians and 50 percent Muslims? Their attempt to intimidate Nigeria into becoming a member of the Islamic League without a referendum is the utmost disregard of the rule of law.

 

Is Babangida hiding from the law and did he respect the law while he was a leader? Did Jonathan get up from sleep one morning and decided to sign an edict instituting a laissez faire attitude toward national insecurity or whatever sentiment he dreamed of the night before? Do members of the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives pass laws that apply to Nigerians with the exception of their own persons? The current Nigerian law seems to be what one negotiates. What law enabled a Nigerian policeman to order a lorry conductor who refused to give a N100 bribery to alight from the bus and then proceeded to shoot the hapless soul to death in full view of terrified passengers? We can safely say Nigeria operates under the Law of the Jungle.

 

                A few years ago, while this writer was teaching graduate programs at a state university in a southeastern American city, he came face to face with what most, if not all Nigerians in the United States understand to be the interplay of running and being pursued. A Nigerian male had committed a crime involving drugs and shootout with police, and was being sought by law enforcement. He ran to our city in southeast United States to hide from the law. He sought refuge or sanctuary and was harbored in the house of another Nigerian friend.

 

The alleged criminal was not just hiding; he was doing more than the children’s game of hide-and-seek. He hid out of great fear, refusing to venture out even to purchase his favorite beer. He was dreadful, terrified, petrified, and scared stiff.  He was nervous whenever his friend drove in front of, beside, or behind a police vehicle. Looking behind or sideways at the approaching police vehicle, that criminally minded Nigerian would complain:”  Why are these ndi uwe oji (police in black uniforms)  following us?” His complaints were insistent even when the police officers were obviously busy minding their mundane or humdrum business of maintaining law and order. This proves that Nigerians fear American laws but trash the laws of their country.  

 

Living in the United States brings every citizen, including every Nigerian-American, within the law’s ambit. Good citizenship

 
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