JUSTICE OKEKE: PENSION IS ROTTEN IN THE HEART OF JUDICIARY
It is so difficult to distinguish the sheep from the lion in Nigeria as a whole. Involvement of the Judiciary our last hope of justice in corruption, even on a small scale is disheartening. The report that one Funke Ogunbiyi, the daughter of a Justice of the Supreme Court went to Justice Okechukwu Okeke and demanded he reverse himself on a matter already executed is disturbing. If it was one of our uncles in those days, that girl would not sleep at home that night. Na who born dog?
The Chief Justice of Nigeria Mariam Aloma Muhktar, may God bless her soul, was just trying to clean up the mess in the judiciary and many Nigerians are relieved at the fresh hope of justice. We were trying to recover from the last nightmare between the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloyius Katsina-Alu and the suspended President of the Court of the Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami when this allegation by Justice Okeke raised its head. Then came a pension rogue of 203 million fined 1,500, by Justice Talba.
Instead of rushing to condemn anyone, further details showed some stinking odor around some Justices themselves for which they were warned before retirement, suspended or should have been fired. Now Okeke, a respected Justice unafraid to rule against governments, may even have been innocent of any allegation. But his allegation against a seating Justice of the Supreme Court is equally hasty. Okeke was linked to the notorious Speaker of the Lagos State who was alleged to have given Justice Okeke half a million dollars bribe advance and the other half after he would have been discharged.
These are very honorable people that have served the Country for a long time. While it may be true that this Funke Ogunbiyi actually approached the honorable Justice, it is premature to implicate her mother. Nobody should underestimate this new generation of Nigerians that learned from corrupt elders. There might have been some discussion at the dinner table for which Supreme Court Justice Clara Ogunbiyi was unhappy with some rulings she could not do anything about. It did not mean she sent her daughter.
Looking further into the case of 5A George Street Ikoyi, it showed that the residents are HPCN staff and have the erudite lawyer, Falana to represent them; that the building should not have been forfeited to the Government as Ms. Ibru's Oceanic Bank saga negotiation. The case becomes clumsier and difficult to distinguish the head from the tail. Right now we do not know who is the hero or the valiant as Justice Okeke must be encourage to speak out if he thinks he could have been wronged or damaged somehow.
Corruption in Nigeria has been used to embellish the most innocent and humble. If you do not play the game with them, they will find ways to get you involved. In other words, you cannot be cleaner than them. Since the Lady Chief Justice made up her mind to clean up, many of us have been praying that she must not stumble. Nigeria needs someone like her to take on the big boys and win. Corruption has been so endemic in the system, it takes a durable and indefatigable human to wrestle it down.
As for Funke Ogunbiyi, we would rather take the words of Justice Okeke over hers. She probably went to his office as reported just because she thinks she is the daughter of a Supreme Court Judge. Whatever her age, she needs family members to reprimand her for trying to soil her mother's reputation. Nigerians in high places must also remind their children and grandchildren not to embarrass or soil their names, especially in public places. Some of us boast too much in front of her children.
It is hard enough being a judge without looking for trouble. They preside over difficult and extremely dangerous individuals that may take the law into their hands. If that is not enough to worry about, they need to get a good part-time job as teachers of children in public schools. Their presence there and similarly disadvantage places is enough to instill humility and discipline. The Chief Justice of Lagos has been visiting different prisons to release those locked up for years without bail for minor offences.
Recently, the son of one of the Justices was kidnapped. Trying to recover from such ugly incident can be traumatic. Some months later, the wife and the daughter of the same Justice Bode Rhode-Vivour were kidnapped again! Gathering life savings if you are not corrupt to bail out your love ones from kidnappers, is not what we wish on the innocent people that are not oppressors.
Our judges must behave accordingly and realized that even when they have the same blood and flesh like everyone else, they must grief, reflex and merry privately and modestly. However, penury in our old age is not only scary to justices, but to all of us. A country that do not treat people that have sacrificed their younger days toiling for the betterment and future of the Country deserve to live the rest of their lives in peace without worrying about their old age. Na weytin, Bodi no be leather nah.
We also know that nothing is more lucrative than being appointed Election Tribunal judge. If you did not celebrate your appointment, some of your relatives would. It is like winning a lottery. Some people say it will not change them. Your relatives tell you to speak for yourself, because if it does not change you, it will change them! How can anyone in any high place in the Country explain that he or she did not use that influence to take bribe, steal allocation, pension and salary?
Indeed, that may be a sure way to invite your relatives to kidnap you until you come up with their share.