The Past Few Weeks in Limericks

The Tribune reports a bizarre story, where students of a particular secondary school in Osun State, reacting to the governor’s pot-pourri revamp, all came to school wearing religious garb. Christians in choir robes, Muslims in veils and African religionists in, well, “fetish” regalia.

In Osun right now there’s confusion

In secondary school institution

Rauf did a mix

And now he must fix

The MusChristTrado revolution

You must be weary of my unending coverage of the political defecations now. No, that was not a typo. The Parties are shitting on each other, aren’t they? Well, the PDP has now lost, for the 2nd or third time in its history, the country’s former vice president. The question has been asked what will happen if he fails to get the APC’s presidential nomination, being its newest member and all… Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The party they want to cremate

As all these old hands relocate

Will lead to the loss

Of national gloss

The defectors Atiku-late*

————-

He’s been here & there & all over

Political shaker and mover

When you oscillate

Like he’s done of late

You’re king of the Party jan’glova*

Now, how does Atiku’s defection/resignation/porting affect previous political calculations? It is said to be an open secret that the current Speaker of the House is poised to join the APC and become its presidential nominee. The chatter on this has been a little subdued over the past week. More waiting and seeing to be done.

What happens when Speakers defect

What should be the legal effect

If they stay in-seat

‘zit legal conceit

Or is it a power redirect?

Ah, yes. There’s also been the matter of a legislative filibuster, which we haven’t seen for a few generations now. Buoyed by the recent influx into its fold, making it the majority party in the lower house, subject of course to how the courts eventually treat defectors, the APC has asked its members to block all executive bills. This is not because they enjoy being a nuisance to the President, no. They say they’re doing it to compel him to return the “rule of law”. We’ve already discussed how that means several things and nothing all at once in Nigeria.

To strip PDP of its lustre

The APC men in their cluster

Are “taking a stand

For good gov’nance” and

Will do so by a filibuster

————————–

Absorbing the past’s imperfections

To shore up for coming elections

Are you really new

Do you have a clue

Or defects are mere defecations?

We return this week to the case of Danbaba Suntai, governor-on-gardening-leave of Taraba State. He appeared on a most pitiful interview on Sahara Reporters, though the State has since feebly alleged that the video is a fake. I know who I believe.

The guv’nor who crashed with his plane

Whose aides say is fit & is sane

In video log

On Sahara’s blog

Admits he can’t yet take the strain

——————–

Danbaba’s aides cleary can’t think

That someone so close to the brink

Was left to admit

That he wasn’t fit

And that he’d been prone to the drink

One of GEJ’s longtime tormentors, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was invited by the SSS to explain certain remarks he’d made. On the good Mallam’s release, he chose to confirm the rumour about Presidential Sniper Teams, first given credence by former President Obasanjo in his open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Our Mallam Has Sighted The List

But Says He Won’t Give Us The Gist

For All Of That Tripe

’bout Rulers That Snipe

We Cannot All Help But Be Pissed

Now, who leaked that snipering list

—————————-

That’s got APC in red mist?

Was it worth revealing

Their targets, who reeling

Now fret if they really exist

The PDP kicked out 80-year old erstwhile chairman, Bamanga Tukur, and President Jonathan promptly appointed him as head of the 115-year old railway corporation. Nothing more to be said about this geriatric pairing, except maybe a previous word on the railways. Oh, and that this was still a huge relief as the word on the streets was that Tukur was going to be appointed the minister of defence!

So Tukur was not for Defence

Their rapture must be so immense

Those poor Jonathanians

Who face Social Medians

And randomly take offence

—————————

The railways aren’t yet slow enuf

Journeys insufficiently ruff

So we got an Ancient

To make us more patient

By fixing up all of that stuff

 

If you’re Nigerian and you haven’t yet heard this leaked customer care agent call, where have you been???

While checking on MTN import

Etisalat Uche gave comfort

Was falsely accused

Of Snatchery-Abuse

And being the called party’s consort

And finally, to St. Peter’s square, where the Pope released a dove to the heavens. The dove didn’t quite make it that far, though as a crow attacked it. A form of Mene Mene Tekel to the onlooking crowd, or what does this mean?

When Francis let go of the bird

A shriek & a cackle were heard

A seagull & crow

Impeded its flow

In scenes superstitious, absurd

*Atiku-late was coined by @Shimoshi1. Follow him on twitter for more witticisms.

WHAT IS THIS RULE OF LAW?

Jurisprudence, in spite of the trepidation in which law students typically hold it, like my undergrad philosophy electives, was a truly fascinating course for me. I marvelled at how regular human beings like us devoted their time to critical thinking to develop ideas that would develop their countries and, unknown to them at the time, shape global appreciation of ideas of law and the state. The notion of the rule of law came about as a result of the exertions of these early thinkers.

 

When the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua assumed office in 2007, he committed his administration to observing and enshrining the rule of law. The phrase became a mantra during his tenure and especially gained popularity when, unlike his predecessors in office, he immediately ordered security agencies to enforce decisions of election tribunals that delivered adverse rulings against his party. While this was widely celebrated, it led to ‘the rule of law’ becoming synonymous with the government ‘permitting’ adverse tribunal rulings to stand.

 

The rule of law has since become a one-eyed, one-armed and one-legged invalid. Business has carried on as usual, the occasional motorist reportedly continued to be shot by the police for refusing to part with ‘special tolls’ at check-points until they were recently dismantled, high-profile criminal trials go a less-than-usual way, many agencies exceed the scope of their jurisdiction but as long as election tribunal judgements are respected, rule of law watchers continue to give the country a pass mark.

 

So, what did the original framers of the expression mean? More than a meaning, the rule of law is a concept of many parts – no one is above the law; no one can be punished by the state except for a breach of the law and in accordance with the law; agreements must be kept; no branch of government is above the law; no public official may act unilaterally or arbitrarily outside the law. It means the law, with all its constituent procedures, is (or at the very least, should be) supreme.

 

The law is clearly yet to be supreme in Nigeria. It should be impossible for parties, including the government, to unilaterally cancel contracts but this is still complained about fairly regularly. Supremacy of the law should mean that accused persons do not spend three years in detention awaiting trial. It should mean, as well, that powerful politicians and government appointees, no matter how highly placed, obey all administrative and judicial orders; seeking orders from the courts to restrain law enforcement agencies from carrying out their statutory and constitutional functions should be thoroughly decried. It should also mean that the law is predictable and any changes to it are not done haphazardly – unlike here in Nigeria where “laws” or regulations change on the whim of the administrative officer in charge, without notice to the public or actual publication and gazetting the new regulations (see a previous post on that here).

 

The rule of law being supreme also means, however, with relevance to recent events that the law is allowed to take its due course. Currently, the public is baying for the blood of everyone indicted in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee (of the House of Representatives) on the administration of fuel subsidy in Nigeria. Everyone is frustrated at the Attorney-General’s suggestion that prosecutions cannot commence straightaway. The truth, however, is that the proper procedure is for the House to forward its conclusions to the police and other relevant law-enforcement agencies for further investigation. As things stand, if charges are brought based on the House report alone, every single person “fingered” WILL be acquitted. The investigative bodies must be given time to compile evidence on which convictions can be obtained safely (ie that appellate courts will be hard pressed to find grounds for reversal). The court of public opinion and the courts of law are two entirely different propositions and while many “criminals” have been convicted largely on hearsay in the former, securing convictions in the latter is a more technical, more skilled, endeavour.

 

Thus, while it is entirely proper for the public to expect prosecutions it is important that we do not, in our frenzied frustrations with the status quo do more damage than good. The true test of how supreme a belief or concept is held is adherence to it even when doing so is not to one’s immediate advantage. If it is the consensus that upholding the rule of law is integral to our country’s prosperity, we cannot make exceptions for when it should be applied.