2011: Law and Morality in Nigeria

by Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

Law is the most potent instrument of class struggle and because laws are made by the ruling class in order to solidify their class position in society, the legislative organs of the state are dominated by powerful dominant groups.

These groups promulgate, amend and tinker with fiscal legislation, budgets and fiscal reviews, in their own interests before the people’s interests are addressed, if ever.
The crucial issue that would determine our survival as a Federal or Confederal Republic is our attitude to law and morality.

In a study, commissioned by Huron Blue Company Ltd, Michigan, USA/Abuja in October 2010, the Curatorium of BOSAS INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU, Abuja, Nigeria examined the critical factors that could affect our 2011 post election life.

Below are some of our findings.
Our present decadent morality and epicurean disposition is suicidal and ill-advised.
Our laws are violated with impunity by the very people, who should enforce them. The law enforcement agencies are not properly equipped to function with ease, except an emergency occurs. As soon as human memory is overcast by other happy events, we lower our guard.

Our lawyers and judges often engage in judicial theatricals of dealing with preliminary objections, protracted adjournment s, delayed Motions on Notice, etc.
At the Magistrate Courts, it is glaring that the learned counsel s and the police prosecutors, stand on a footing of manifest inequality.

In “free” enterprise societies, the law often favours the propertied class, bankers, politicians and people with means. The big thief receives a light sentence, while the common petty thieves receive the full weight of the law.

The blind-folded lady with the symbolic sword manages to see through her blind-fold, when a personality of sorts is in the dock.
The judges have already pleaded that under the present arrangement, the Courts of Law and the Courts of Justice are difficult to separate from one another.

The mysteries of man-made law are unfolded in Law Schools and academies, with rigour and great energy. Those who persevere to the end and go all the way, wear the lawyers robe and are regarded as learned.
Law is not taught to everyone. Yet, there is the maxim that says that “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”

Since my first year at law school, I have opposed this antiquated legal maxim, just like I have disagreed with the Common law doctrine that the “King can do no wrong”, even when the people had reasons to decapitate the Monarch!

I think that law should be taught to all citizens. It is after such tutorship that the state can hold delinquents to account.

W. Friedmann wrote that “The Romans laid the foundation of modern analytical jurisprudence, but their contribution to legal philosophy has been slight. What there is of it is mainly eclectic and secondhand, such as the writings of Cicero and Seneca.”

In the same vein, one can say that the Nigerian legal system is based, to a large extent, on alien English law, with relevant modifications and adaptations to suit the demands of Nigeria, as an independent, sovereign, Federal Republic of the Confederal genre.

I lament that out of the ninety branches of law that exist and are taught in developed states, Nigerian Law Schools seem to have retained those subjects, which their British trained law teachers laboriously learnt at the Inns and faculties of law in England and to which they do not wish to add any new didactic horrors.

This escapist route proves counterproductive, when our law students go abroad and are shocked to see what is required of them to qualify for higher degrees.

At BOSAS INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU, we have been assisting law students (free of charge) to advance their legal education through seminars, essay-writing and discussions. Contact eesiemokhai@yahoo.com.

The growth of our constitutional law is often handcuffed by judgments that do not sketch the jurisprudential merits of the legal issues being canvassed.
I sat through the prolonged delivery of the judgment in the Yar’aduaVs Buhari case in 2008.. The judgment remains a judicial fabrication in the service of political expediency.
Subsequent judgments have been imbued with judicial candour.

Law is a regulator of socio-political, economic and cultural behavior, which took its relevance from the Ten Commandments, the Avesta, the Laws of Hammurabi, the Laws of Manu, the Code of Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar (now Malagasy, Roman law, Norman Law etc.

Every society needs legal norms, its own jurisprudence, which is aimed at societal control, in order to maintain societal peace and correct delinquents and mal-adjusted citizens, when they err.
There are many branches of law, which cannot be discussed in this small space, because we must respect the editorial convenience of the publisher.

It will also be inappropriate to delve into legal theory, even though Radbruch wrote that its task is “the clarification of legal values and postulates up to the ultimate of their philosophical foundations”.
Morality is imbedded in the consciousness of what is just and proper, what is adjudged as right or wrong behaviour. This consciousness imposes a moral obligation and a duty to exercise moral judgment, not necessarily enforced by legal compulsion.

In Nigeria, the change from good, moral behaviour to materialism and mammonic worship of the most obscene type in the last fifty years has eroded the civic and moral culture prevalent in the Nigeria of the 1950s.

There is an apparent misunderstanding of what social utility allows and where greed becomes too elastic for normal comprehension.
In the present Nigeria, laws are disregarded with impunity because of the ease with which citizens regard the possibility for acquittal, if charged to court and the price is right.
As a result, remorse and the power of shame are no longer moral problems, because criminal conduct is defended with missionary zeal. The cheats mock the righteous.

The righteous are surprised and amazed by the leniency or abandon with which criminality is treated. The recalcitrance with which political leaders loot the treasury is unacceptable in a democratic society, where the people are supposed to respect laws, equity and where people have good conscience.
The larney way embezzlement is covered in Nigeria, point to the fact that there is no end to the ingenuity of man.

There is need for law and morality to be essential factors in governance in Nigeria. As long as there is no complete identity of law, moral righteousness, equity and good conscience as a state’s operational strategy, the social force of legal sanctions will be weak.

The elections that we envisage will hold in April next year, must succeed,
. On 2nd October, 2010, the United States effortlessly conducted successful Mid Term elections, in which the Democrats retained the majority in the Senate, while the Republican Party increased their lead in the House of Representatives.

Some politicians won, some lost. The heavens did not fall. So far, no one went to court to challenge their failure to win.
In Nigeria, as a result of unwholesome and crooked disposition of some politicians,, some would have gone to court in the hope of manipulating court judgments.

The INEC must invest its energy and wisdom to conduct free and fair elections next April 2011, in order to contain those, who after suffering the ignominy of defeat, would use the courts as a sword.
We must separate the unfit, the misfit, those who rely on “reptilian excellence, on mammalian excellence, on hare-brained intelligence, who have not transformed themselves, not to talk of transforming Nigeria, should not waste INEC’s time and our resources.

“Leadership involves the head and the heart. It is both analytical and interpersonal. Having the range and the repertoire to be cold-blooded, rational and deci

sive at times and at other times, warm-blooded, nurturing and participative and knowing when to be which, is a great challenge. It is like running a marathon and playing the violin, at the same time.” B. Joseph White with Yaron Prywes
A good, relevant education, preferably in the fields of law, economics, sociology and political science should frame the synthesis for grasping the complex phenomenon, which statecraft actually represents.
The possession of such knowledge will reduce the incidence of tutoring, mentoring and nurturing political leaders, who should have gone through the brain purification process earlier in life.

It reduces the number of advisers, script-writers and other do-gooders, who resurrect from infirmaries to pontificate inanities of inconsequential import, about contemporary society, where e-government, e-commerce and transparency have replaced the type of governance that took our Republic nowhere in the last fifty years of experimental constitutionalism and in which we made little progress.
In 2015, perhaps the disquisition between the Federalists and the Confederalists will center on the condition that “The Federal or Confederal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except he or she possesses the relevant knowledge, experience, maturity and transparency of character in accordance with the provisions of our future Constitution”

What constitutes fitness, experience, knowledge and transparency of character shall be decided by the concepts of law and morality and the Voters of Nigeria, at the polls.

You may also like

1 comment

A.A Odutuga November 8, 2010 - 4:14 pm

Things are generally like this, because we as a people choose to have them this way. Basically, the nation herself, including the legal, political, socio-economic systems are not our own ideas, but a foil for perpetual subjectivity to neo-colonial lords and their indigenous compradors. For close to a century, they had assumed the ownership of our commonwealth plus our very existence. They only need to stir us towards any direction at all, and we sheepishly obey. How can we change things considering the lethargy, non chalance in our society?


Leave a Comment