SIR: When honour and the law no longer stand on the same side of the line, how do we choose? Nigeria is like a Titanic heading towards an iceberg. The N750,000 fine against Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf who, in concert with other rogues orchestrated the looting of pensioners fund, is just one out of several bizarre sentences from our judges.
How 176 criminal charges against an ex-governor were dismissed in less than two hours is still fresh in our memory. Today, the same convict while serving jail time in foreign land is still earning pension as ex-governor, an office he criminally captured, desecrated and looted. Good conscience and equity demand that a felon should not derive any benefit from his illegal activities and anything contrary is an anathema to the concept of an ideal society.
Those forecasting a brighter future for Nigeria are either hallucinating or not paying serious attention to the cancer that is spreading like wildfire. There is no country that can survive judicial recklessness and corruption and Nigeria will never be an exception. We have seen in other climes how the judiciary saves many states from collapsing by upholding the sacred principle of checks and balances as last bastion of hope for the masses. But, here in Nigeria, our judiciary is gradually converting the temple of justice to an institution of horror and oppression where only the devilish interests of felons are nurtured.
When erstwhile U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the level of official corruption Nigeria is unbelievable, she was stating the obvious as someone who is privy to classified information or is there anywhere in this world apart from Nigeria where someone could plead guilty for stealing N23biIlion and only gets option of fine of 750,000 naira?
Where a governor looted a state for eight years, pleaded guilty and paid three million naira fine? Where some few citizens congregate like pride of lions feasting and racketing state resources with impunity? Where someone set-up fraudulent Ponzi schemes not unlike Bernard Madoff of America and only gets six months sentence in hospital?
Where strange “Plea Bargaining” is wholly adopted as an instrument of law for felons to escape justice? Where is it done in this modern world? Where?
John Yakubu Yusuf did not only loot Police pension funds in league with others rogues, they orchestrated and embezzled social security funds meant to secure the future of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, aunts. In some climes, Yusuf action can trigger nationwide social unrest because a man with licensed weapons will not watch his family starved to death or face uncertain future. He will surely resort to self help and in the end the society pays dearly for sabotaging the future of a man.
Yes, no country is corruption free. But the level of audacity and tolerance for criminal activities in Nigeria is very alarming and incredible. With a judiciary that is ever ready to romance felons, it is only a matter time before this country implode.
• Akinola M.A.