WHAT do we do when robbery suspects question society's morality? Garba Sani, 24, a private guard accused of robbery, and Okwudili Godwin, 30, said to have received the stolen goods, gave reporters a treatise on the commonness of crimes in the society even at the highest levels."
We are not robbers. We have many criminals in Nigeria. Senators are stealing money and nobody has arrested them. We too, we need money. We are jobless, we have nothing. My salary is N12, 000 monthly," according to Sani, who said it was a simple case of "break in" as they did not use arms.
Nobody would support this justification for crimes, but it still nudges at the conscience of society. We are assuming that we are still in a society that has conscience. Does the society care about its members' survival? What are the responsibilities of governments to the governed?
The suspects are insisting that their crime was milder. "I took the goods to my warehouse at Ikorodu area. Nothing was sold; they have all been recovered intact," Okwudili said before adding, "Have you not committed a crime before? How much are they paying you a month that can sustain you and your family? Let me tell you, we are all criminals. We are Nigerians and we have the element of criminality in us".
With these assertions, Sani and Okwudili resonate the Nigerian situation. They hold the grounds that what they have done is common in Nigeria, more so among the high and mighty.
They are questioning the partiality of the law in seeming to be out to get the poor, the weak and those without enough connections to avoid prosecution. Can anyone fault their position that our laws are particularly against the likes of Sani, who earns N12, 000 a month?
How do Nigerians survive without being criminals? Can Nigerians survive without breaking laws or engaging in more serious crimes? Are we so concerned with those who are caught that we forget that so much could be going on undetected? Would the law understand that a country that fails in its responsibilities breeds criminals? Are those who breach the Constitution, after swearing to uphold it, also criminals?
Section 16 (2 d) of the Constitution states, "The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens."
Which state policy are premised on the provisions of Section 16 (2 d)? Unfortunately, it takes robbery suspects to draw attention to unconscionable neglect of the Nigerian.