• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

A country without consequences

A country without consequences

To attain a state of justice, and by justice, I mean justice for everyone, and according to the law, every state has a choice to make—a choice between two irreconcilable lines of the rule of law and the rule of man. To avoid anarchy, every society strives to stick to the side of the coin that ensures that no one acts or is seen to act outside the borders of the rule of law.

To achieve this goal, the state has a right to insist that its citizens and all foreigners residing within its territorial space must strictly obey its laws by adopting a governmental social control means of enacting, communicating, and sanctioning its citizens who break the law. The subtle prevalence of the rule of man and the lack of social consequences for people’s actions and inactions erode the basic essence of a structured system that ensures a fair, just, and secure society.

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Society becomes a complex crisis when ordinary people realise that certain classes of citizens can commit crimes, fail in responsibilities, or outsmart others without consequences. This reinforces the idea that might is right and absolute power corrupts. An Animal Farm situation illustrates this, with selective justice and survival of the fittest. People struggle for power to absorb their actions or omissions without consequences, as seen in Ragnar Redbeard’s concept of the “Animal Farm.”

Nigeria has a history of serious incidents highlighting a lack of responsibility, accountability, and consequences. Since independence, there has been no completed federal road connecting different regions, yet billions of naira are appropriated annually for almost all federal roads.

No history has been made for students as a case study of corrupt contractors and their allies. The electricity grid collapsed 99 times in eight years, and no one is held accountable for the N829.788 billion budgeted from 2018 to 2023 for various infrastructure projects.

Kidnapping in Nigeria continues to thrive, with 276 Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014 and 96 remaining in captivity. Despite 38 years since the murder of Dele Giwa, a Federal High Court has only ordered the government to reopen the investigation and prosecution of those involved. This is common with unresolved cases of social injustices, crime against humanity, and institutional abuse of power in Nigeria. The ENDSARS victims’ case is another example of this, with reports of failed prosecutions and oppressive justice and police systems.

But we cannot set our gaze only on the big narratives of social deviance; little things matter too, and we must all be held to the same degree of responsibility. It all starts with the littlest form of failure to observe the general rule that should apply to everyone. According to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), between 2017 and 2018 alone, 1,436 accidents occurred due to preventable tyre bursts, if only the drivers made sure that the tyres were roadworthy before travelling. As little as disobeying traffic lights seems, it has grave social implications. In 2013, WHO estimated an average of 35,641 lives were lost to road traffic accidents in Nigeria.

From 1999 to 2023, Nigerian governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame were convicted of corruption, but their pardon was granted against Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution. The president argued that the state encourages corruption and only allows individuals to steal public funds and claim health.

Nyame and Dariye were 66 and 64 years old when they were pardoned. Lucky Igbinedion, charged with looting up to $24 million, entered a plea bargain with the EFCC in 2008 and went home free. The foreign justice system ensured the conviction of others, including James Ibori.

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The author emphasises the importance of holding everyone accountable in Nigeria, regardless of their class, creed, or contact. They argue that building a country that holds everyone accountable requires not only the president, but also all public institutions, government levels, and officials.

They argue that everyone who fails, omits, or commits a crime must be held to the same degree of accountability as the law requires. They believe that this can only happen if people and public officials form the basic canons of decency that define a civilised society. They also emphasise the need for pride in observing the smallest of our laws.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Ekpa, Stanley Ekpa a lawyer and leadership consultant wrote via [email protected]