Much as I feel like celebrating the recent conviction of Henry Okah in far away South Africa, now legally the mastermind behind the Nigerian independence day bombing which killed many and maimed even more, I feel there is more pain in the conviction than happiness.
While watching the Channels TV review of President Goodluck Jonathan moments after the Independence day bombings denying claims of responsibility for the outrageous bombings by the MEND, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of divine intervention is holding Nigeria together in the face of glaring leadership deficiency facing the country.
That, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. If anything, the conviction of Okah only exposes the depth of insincerity with which Nigeria is being governed. No nation in the world would accept the total collapse of different components of its leadership tools while everybody who is somebody pretend everything is working fine.
I consider it an insult to my dignity as a Nigerian, especially a public office holder that our courts are now so suffocated by politicians and emergency billionaires who could afford to bribe their way and get away with all sorts of crimes. To say that heinous crimes like those committed by Henry Okah could only be passed through a convincing judicial process in foreign courts is, to say the least, the most unforgiven legacy being left behind for the next generation.
Not only a 21st century nation, but even historical nations survived on a single common factor -respect for constituted authority and rule of law. Any nation that cannot ensure the honour and respect of its courts is heading for disaster. That, precisely is where Nigeria is heading as a nation.
Our disdain and disrespect for our judicial system has taken the flavour out of democracy as a system. Nigeria today is a country where criminals get more access to instruments of justice than the majority people who have to live with the excesses of the courts that always engages different tailored technicalities to free criminals high up the ladder, while using same technicalities to jail ordinary pick pockets who were mostly pushed into criminality by the biting effect of the horrendous behaviour of the mega thieves ripping Nigeria blind.
Okah's conviction is only coming second after the conviction of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori by a London court for charges of money laundering. Funny enough, Ibori's conviction came only after he was acquitted by Nigerian courts. Makes one wonder if Nigerian and British courts use different types of "English law" to try and convict criminals.
To remove any doubt about efforts in place to destroy our judicial system, nobody is yet to hear anything about the Judge/Judges that sat and decided James Ibori was innocent. Not a single word from the National Judicial Commission (NJC). Is it any wonder that courts in Nigeria are being desecrated and ridiculed by everybody including judges?
How else does one explain the recent verdict of a high court judge to upturn the decision of both the Appellate and Supreme Courts that have decided the same issue conclusively as was the case with the recent verdict by a High court to sack 10 CPC members from the chambers of the National Assembly who were there on the strength of a court verdict that supported their case.
It was with this background that I listened to the cries of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch chairman, one Mr. Onyekachi Ubani for the overhauling of the nation's justice system. Laudable as it seems, Ubani left much unanswered questions regarding the role of the lawyer who connived with corrupt judges to subvert justice under the guise of one injunction or another. It is always easy to shift the blame on any available scapegoat, but we should not be delusional into believing that the glaring rot in the nation's judicial system was not jointly created and nursed into the monster it has grown.
The glaring effect of this recklessness could be seen in the reactions of President Goodluck Jonathan to the gun attack on the emir of Kano recently. Though President Jonathan promised to nab the attackers, nobody is in doubt that it was, at best, a publicity stunt.
And even if his anger was sincere, Nigerians have since lost touch with the President and his confusing verbal and body languages. Should they be nabbed, are we taking them to South Africa to be tried and convicted? It is one thing to be a president and it is entirely another thing to be a president who always gets nothing better than "we hear" everytime he talks. That's the lowest one can drag the office of the president.
The way we go about it, it is safe to assume Nigeria is reverting back to its former status of a colony. At least, no one can deny that Nigeria is now a judicial colony of South Africa, else somebody should tell us why Okah and Ibori are not in Kuje prison.
-Kaita is a member, House of Representatives