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Opinion:Soyinka’s Wisdom Cures Buhari’s Impotence



Tunde Odesola

Before 1975, the name ‘Gabber’ meant nothing to me. It was just any other nice-sounding monicker. But after I watched Sholay, India’s most successful movie in the last 50 years, at Rainbow Cinema, Mushin, Lagos, in the mid 70s, I began to hold the name in suspicion.

Gabber’s initials are GS. He’s the supervillain in the 1975 superhit movie which broke all records and ran for more than five years in Mumbai theatre. His surname is Singh. Gabber Singh is the ultimate, archetypal villain of the multi-billion dollar Indian film industry.

I was taken to the cinema by one of my uncles, boda Jide. Wow! I love the electronic darkness of the cinema. With its colorful, larger-than-life pictures, booming sound effects and fluorescent-white screen, the cinema holds a spelbound charm at all times.

Sholay’s storyline is simple but arresting. The bandit, Gabber Singh, kills the family of a retired police chief, Thakur Singh, who employs the services of two small-time thieves, Veeru and Jai, to help capture the criminal.

Clearly, I still can hear the bewitching Hemma Malini, (cast as Basanti), the commercial horse cart rider, singing and wriggling her beaded waist. I can see the tall and handsome Dharmendra (Veeru) and the sexy Amitabh Bachchan (Jai), riding their joint scooter in daredevilry, shooting their way out of harm. I can see the young Amjad Khan (Gabber Singh) smiling as he supervises the torture of Dharmendra, and the armless Sanjeev Kumar (Thakur), riding on the wave of vengeance. I can’t forget the song of avowed friendship between Dharmendra and Amitabh, Hum Nahi Todenge. Literature, good music, soap operas and movies were the hallmarks of my childhood.

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In today’s Nigeria, literature is coughing up blood, music is writhing in viral vulgarity; porn, violence and materialism reside in soap operas and movies while science and technology is the leper in a godforsaken colony called ignorance.

It’s not only Bollywood that has a cult figure with the GS initials. Nigeria’s political theatre, Aso Rock, also does. Aso Rock’s GS is the inimitable dramatis persona called Garba Shehu, who, years ago, rode hopefully towards Abuja in the convoy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s aspiring presidency, but changed seats after the BAT shrieked at midnight and swung the pendulum of power to Katsina.

While the supervillain Indian Gabber is a master who gives orders, the superhero Nigerian Garba is an obedient servant who takes orders from seen and unseen masters, and carries them out with the swiftness of a conscienceless sword.

When you’re spokesperson to a President without a school certificate, insult becomes a weapon against reason, coercion displaces the rule of law, sycophancy swallows merit and victimisation becomes a state art – all in the defence of presidential ineptitude, corruption, nepotism and ethnicity.

Like Gabber, Garba is fearless. He’s no respecter of age, intellect, dignity and civility whenever a voice of reason rises against his lean and incompetent master in Aso Rock. Garba threw decorum and honor out through the window last week when Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, called attention to the weak ex-soldier’s everlasting lethargy and unconstitutional action by single-handedly locking down Abuja, Lagos and Ogun over the coronavirus outbreak without the consent of the National Assembly.

Like Soyinka, several lawyers, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, faulted Buhari’s overbearance, stressing that the husband of Aisha possesses no such powers to unilaterally close any state’s borders. But Garba chose not to contend the illegality of Buhari’s action with the lawyers because, unlike Soyinka, they didn’t beam a torch on the darkling failure that has enveloped Buhari from Nigerians. The poet-essayist-novelist wondered how Buhari, who had been on ‘AWOL’ (Absent Without Leave), suddenly woke up after a long siesta to start issuing orders, closing Abuja, Lagos and Ogun to movement for 14 days.

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If Soyinka had only criticised Buhari for the lockdown, Garba wouldn’t have been unleashed. Soyinka became Buhari’s object of attack because he (Soyinka) highlighted the pounding absenteeism that has become the cornerstone of the Buhari regime.

However, Garba neither deployed wisdom nor common sense in his attack on Soyinka, leaving discernible members of the public wondering how many certificates are missing in Aso Rock.

In a language decipherable to a primary school pupil, Soyinka, who didn’t criticise the global medical recommendation of lockdown, revealed that he himself was in self-isolation but he stressed that Buhari should simply have gotten the National Assembly to approve his lockdown wish, lest the country descends into illegality. The laureate even called on legal luminaries to help shed light on the legality or otherwise of Buhari’s action, warning that if left unchallenged, Buhari could wake up some other time, and declare a vindictive lockdown on any state – long after the COVID 19 pandemic had ended.

In his profoundly empty and unwise response, Garba steered the argument away from Buhari’s idleness and cow-in-a-china-shop meddlesomeness, which Soyinka raised, saying the playwright should write a fiction about coronavirus. In an infantile attempt to ridicule Soyinka and diminish his literary genius, Garba belched, “Professor Soyinka is not a medical professor… Across the world, mandated lockdowns are in place…Perhaps, Wole Soyinka may write a play on the coronavirus pandemic after this emergency is over.” It’s obvious that Garba is oblivious that all democratic countries, which effected lockdowns during the ongoing pandemic, first got the approval of their legislatures.

By trying to trivialise literature, Garba opened himself up to ridicule as a shallow image-maker, who is shockingly unaware that a captivating novelist, Dean Koontz, foretold the outbreak and deadliness of coronavirus more than 30 years ago. Medicine as an offshoot of science and technology is critical to human wellness just as literature as an offshoot of arts is the adhesive that prevents the world from falling off the map of human dignity – teaching language, culture and tradition. Unlike the misleading gospel of Garba, neither of science and technology, and arts is superior to the other. Probably, Garba is the type of parent that would force his child to study medicine when such a child has the talent to outwit Messi to the Ballon d’Or or outsing Cobhams Asuquo to the gong or beat Sanyeri to crowd applause.

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Few days after Garba’s defence, Buhari, uncharastically saw sense in Soyinka’s wise counsel as he later sought and got the approval of the Senate for the closure of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun, putting a needle to the balloon of shame inflated by Garba. A report by Vanguard newspaper of April 4, 2020, confirms Buhari’s compliance with the rule of law. Hitherto Buhari’s capitulation, Garba and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had insisted that Buhari was right in his usurpation of the National Assembly’s powers. If the President was right, why get the approval of the N/A in the long run?

After Buhari trampled upon Nigeria’s constitution by sacking the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on December31, 1983, Generals Gbadamosi Babangida and Sani Abacha wouldn’t have had the guts to seize power in 1985 and 1993 respectively if Nigerians had resisted the criminality perpetrated by Buhari and his gang in 1983.

Expectedly, the impotence of the commander-in-chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces to check the growing dehumanisation and killing of innocent Nigerians, especially in the South, by Buhari’s zombie-soldiers failed to stir the milk of human kindness in Garba. Or has Garba not seen viral vdeos of bestial soldiers, mostly of northern extraction, ordering people to swim in sewage? If Nigerians had resisted soldier-police oppression since the 1970s – as advised by the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – the incessant killings we see today won’t occur.

This is the essence of Soyinka’s homily to Buhari. Political aides should help their principals see issues in true perspectives. This is a better way to earn a living rather than bark at imaginary shadows.

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Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, a columnist with the Punch newspapers.




OPINION: Rivers Of Betrayals




By Suyi Ayodele

“A child”, the elders of my place say, “only knows when he takes the oath of loyalty but is never aware when he breaks it” (Ojó tí omodé bá mu ilẹ̀ lo mo; kii mo ojó tọ́ bá da). They did not stop there. They go a bit further to talk about the consequence of treachery. Their judgement is a grave one. They submit thus: “Ilẹ̀ ní pa òdàlẹ̀” (The earth kills the one who breaks an oath). Now listen. When you hear the word, “ilẹ̀”, my elders are not by any means referring to the solid surface known as land – earth surface. No. It is deeper than that. Ilẹ̀ in Yoruba philosophy goes beyond the physical. My little knowledge of our culture tells me that once a person is cursed with the land, all terrestrial and celestial bodies are invoked and evoked to come to play. I know one or two persons that suffered the misfortune of being so cursed. As I penned this, my mind raced to those personalities in pity, and I trembled at the same time.

I tell you a short story of how someone I know suffered the fate that befalls every treacherous being. The two characters in the story are brothers of the same father. Their family, like every other polygamous set up, is not spared the ordeals of sibling rivalry. But those two guys were the closest in their family, or so we thought. They also shared one common character determiner; they are both rogues. So, it happened that one night, they conspired to burgle a tenant’s apartment in their father’s house. As planned, the elder brother was the one who climbed the ceiling to gain access to the apartment. As soon as his younger brother confirmed that he was in the room, he raised the alarm. Neighbours gathered and surrounded the house. It was to everybody’s shock when the thief was caught, and he turned out to be the son of the landlord. The culprit, on sighting his brother, asked why he decided to act the way he did. The police came and took him into custody. Days later, he was arraigned in a magistrate court and was summarily sentenced to a three-year prison term. He did his term and returned home in the dead of the night.

Early the following day, he left for the family’s ancestral home and sent a traditional message to the elders of their clan to join him there because he had a story to tell. The elders gathered. Some wayfarers joined them. Then he went ahead to narrate how his brother betrayed him on the night he was caught. His brother was in the audience. He did not dispute what the elder brother said. Before the elders could speak, the ex-convict did something tragic and irreversible. On the traditional spot where the family’s first placenta was buried, the ex-convict placed his left foot on it and issued a curse on his half-brother thus: “Let the land judge between us if I deserved the treachery from you that night.” The people present chorused “Ase”- Amen. He (the one caught) left town, only to return years later, a practically useless man. The last time I was in their place, I saw the two brothers. The signs of the effects of the jail term and the curse were very visible. Indeed, “Ilẹ̀ nií pa òdàlẹ̀.”

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Mr. Nyesom Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has been in the news in the last couple of days. And it is for very bad reasons, though that has, in itself, become the new normal in the Nigerian political firmament. Wike, unarguably, is a man who thrives in trouble and controversies. He is the typical “Arogunyo” (he who is happy when there is war). Is that an enviable attribute? I leave you to answer that. From doing-in his own political party, the now comatose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the last presidential elections, to his attempt to remove, unceremoniously, his political protégé and successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara, to practically insulting a Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niger Delta, the FCT minister cuts the picture of a man whose yam turns out to be the biggest in the compound but has not learnt the wisdom of covering his mouth while eating it. There is a word of caution for such indiscreet behaviour. I don’t know how much of learning Wike has in our culture. I can just offer a free lesson here, to wit, what joins one to eat the biggest yam is more than one’s family members.

I saw the video of Wike’s tirade on the Bishop, and I asked myself what would have been the reaction of, let’s say, My Lord Bishop Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, the retired Bishop of Akure Diocese. Tufiakwa! No Jupiter would dare do such a thing where my Lord Bishop Gbonigi presides. Not even a Military Governor or Administrator would ever come to the lion’s lair the way Wike did in Port Harcourt about a week ago, where he openly upbraided the clergyman for not recognising him when he (Wike) entered the church. Such behaviour also has a description in our traditional folksongs. In one of the songs, someone of Wike’s behaviour is called; “Ajaye ma wo ehin” – he who carries on without a thought for the end result. The elders, again, warn such an individual to note that the world rotates. Today, Wike is the FCT Minister. But for how long? Probably, another eight years, if God permits. After that, he becomes an ex-FCT Minister the same way he is being referred to as ex-governor! That is life. It moves, it revolves and those who carry on without sparing a thought for the repercussion of their actions and inactions are usually caught on the wrong side of history.

How true then is the saying that a man with bad character may not necessarily know himself? I found an answer to this question in the recent statement credited to Minister Wike, who was quoted to have said that he could not tolerate ingrates. Whao! So, the restless former governor detests ingratitude? Wike, while speaking at a function in Abuja, described his successor, Governor Fubara, as an ingrate, who attempted to crumble his political structure in Rivers State.

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This is how the minister described his successor and the political crisis in the once-peaceful state: “Let me tell you, I don’t like ingrates. I can’t stand it. What is happening now is what former Governor Peter Odili said in his book: ‘Give a man, power and money, then you will know the person.’ If you haven’t given a man, power, and money then you don’t know the person…. You know what is painful? All these allegations, I smile. Who and who sat with him. In all your doings be grateful in your life no matter the circumstance. Nobody who is a gentleman, and a politician will support this kind of thing. I left projects for him to commission so he would showcase them during his 100 days, then politics came in. We are just starting. God gave you something, you are now importing crisis. God gave this on a platter of gold, no crisis. The Federal Government is not fighting you; nobody at home is fighting you. You are the one trying to create a crisis for yourself. What kind of system is that? Who does that? Only ingrates that it is in their blood that will support what is happening there. Only those who are naturally ingrates.”

So, in all his dealings with all the benevolent political squirrels that cracked his political palm kernels for him, Wike has remained grateful to all of them? Who among his political benefactors has Wike not shown ingratitude to? Who among them has he not decimated? Which of the political structure that was used in making Wike chairman of a council, Chief of Staff to Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of State for Education and finally governor of Rivers State, is still standing today. Has Wike been eternally grateful to his benefactors, like Dr Peter Odili, whose book, “Conscience and History – My Story”, he quoted at the Abuja function. If Odili had not shown magnanimity, maturity, and a deep sense of forgiveness, would he and Wike have been on talking terms today? What about Rotimi Amaechi, the man who handed over power to Wike? Is the Ikwere man not nursing the fatal political injury inflicted on him by Wike till date? If Amaechi were to write the memoirs of his political voyage, how many negative chapters would Wike occupy? What has been the foundation of Rivers State since the beginning of this present democratic dispensation if not treachery, ingratitude, and acute backstabbing?

While one will not necessarily support Fubara burning the bridge that he used in crossing his political river, it is completely out of place for Wike to talk about ingratitude. His entire political life and journey is built on that infamy. Whatever a man sows, is what he reaps. Nothing changes that! Is Wike not ungrateful to the PDP which sharpened his political teeth for him? Did he not sink the PDP in Rivers, Enugu, Abia, Oyo, and Benue States, when he led the PDP G-5 Governors, in the last election? Without the PDP, would Wike have amounted to anything politically? Is he not an ingrate and a prodigal political son to the benevolent Odili? Did he not repay Amaechi, the man who made him a CoS, a junior minister, and a governor with ingratitude when he found new masters in the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his wife, Madam Patience Goodluck Jonathan? But for selling his old godfather, Amaechi for 30 Shekels of silver like Judas Iscariot, would Wike not have been long confined to the ignoble dustbin of political history? Something is wrong with Rivers State. The owners of the land need to look deeper into the issue of political treachery in the oil-rich state. The way political leaders there change loyalty like a baby’s diapers calls for concern. Political decency appears to be in short supply over there!

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In Rivers State, it has been an unbroken stream of treachery. Odili tells it all in his “Conscience and History – My Story.” The Rivers’ political ancestor tells the story of how he made his own Personal Assistant, Rotimi Amaechi, a member of the House of Assembly, and then the speaker. Wike was a council chairman in the Odili government. When it was discovered that the Abuja powerhouse would not support Amaechi’s governorship PDP candidature, it was the same Amaechi who nominated his cousin, Celestine Omehia and he was elected governor. Suddenly, the same Amaechi became incommunicado and disappeared from the radar of the godfather, Odili. By the time Amaechi resurfaced, Omehia was no longer the governor, having been removed by his cousin, Amaechi. As the new governor, Amaechi appointed Wike his CoS, and the duo ganged up to dethrone Odili as the political godfather of Rivers and stripped him naked! Then it was the turn of Wike to derobe and dethrone Amaechi, who made him CoS, nominated him to Goodluck Jonathan for appointment as minister.

Amaechi lost Wike to Abuja and from there joined forces with Amaechi’s foes to sack him from Rivers politics. With Abuja behind him, Wike defeated Amaechi’s candidate and became governor of Rivers. In the last election, Mr. Wike made his Accountant General, Fubara, the governor. Seven months down the line, Fubara is up in arms against Wike as a continuation of that narration of treachery. One strange thing about it all is that at every bus stop of treachery, each of the traitors complained loudly that he had been betrayed. The Yoruba say curse (egun) moves from one generation to the other. Treachery will continue in that political family in Rivers for a long time until an outsider comes in to break the jinx. Did Odili ever do that to whoever his political godfathers were? That is a task for political historians to handle.

It is true that Wike has been much luckier than his mates. He has enjoyed the best of political patronage and upliftment. He has the right to behave like the proverbial “Ajaye ma wo ehin.” Most people in his category see others who are less-fortunate as never-do-well. But there is always a tomorrow for people in that mould. When you eat in the house of a benevolent deity, it is foolish to look at others in a home that suffers lack with disdain. Why? There is a saying by my people that “Ebora ayini je, he yini hi ta”- the deity that feeds you doesn’t give you to sell. This means there is an extent to which luck can carry a man. Wike had used the sword of treachery to decapitate his political benefactors in the past. It is natural that Wike is worried that Fubara is sharpening that same sword and aiming at his political skull. He can fight all the fights. He has the support of those in power. But one thing is sure; vengeance will surely come at the appointed time. The sword has been unsheathed. It is now like the Biblical “bow of Jonathan”, and the “sword of Saul”, which “turned not back, and returned not empty” without touching “the blood of the slain”, and “the fat of the mighty” (2 Samuel 1:22). He can only postpone the evil days; they will surely come the way day succeeds the night. This is not a curse; it is the course of life that no man can change. We will witness it and we will recall that at a point in time, the past treachery of a mighty man was fully repaid in full measure, if not more. It will happen!

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OPINION: The Judicial Adultery In Kano




By Lasisi Olagunju

The falcon no longer hears the falconer. A commercial flight landed in Asaba on Sunday but its cabin crew welcomed passengers to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja. A certified true copy of an Appeal Court judgment last week gave victory to both the respondents and the appellants. Nigeria of today is the textbook definition of confusion.

I seek to describe what the Court of Appeal did with the Kano governorship case as judicial adultery. I also seek to call it an adulteration of justice. I write with the help of my dictionary which has pointed it out to me that ‘adulterate’ and ‘adultery’ come from the same Latin root, adulterare, meaning “to falsify, corrupt.” Rodents of karma peed into the soup pot of the absolute monarchs in our court halls last week. A court that chops knuckles with parties before it is sure to deliver hybrid judgments – a little to the right, a little to the left; a salad of poisonous confusion. Fuji megastar, Kollington Ayinla, sang decades ago about indecorous mating in music-sphere. The product, he says, will have the face of the lead singer; the arms and legs of the child will belong to the drummer; the head will go to the gong man (Oju l’oju Kola/Apa l’apa Social/Ese l’ese Aromire/Ori l’ori Jimoh Agogo/Eti l’eti Marcus…).

Scholars after scholars have stressed, repeatedly, that the role of a judge in a case is to “transform the uncertainty about the facts into the certainty of the verdict.” A judge that leaves parties before it uncertain and confused after judgement has failed at doing his work. He deserves neither his pay nor a pat nor the usual allowances of reverence. Like the hybrid child in Kollington Ayinla’s ‘Ta ni o jo’ song, the Kano governorship judgement birthed a shapeshifter; a certified true copy that carved the verdict’s trunk in the image of the APC respondents while the gavel head of the bull goes to the NNPP appellants. It is the first hybrid judgment in the history of the world and the court system.

Every reasonable Nigerian was shocked to know of this case. The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja heard and decided an appeal on the governorship of Kano State. It read its judgement in the open court sacking the incumbent governor who was the appellant in the case. Five days later, the party that lost got a certified true copy (CTC) of the judgement but saw that the decision and orders of the court on the document actually gave them the crown of victory. On the face of the CTC of the judgment signed by the chairman of the panel, the court resolved “live issues” in the case in favour of the respondents (APC) and dismissed the Appeal. It then scandalously proceeded to resolve “all issues” in favour of the appellants (NNPP) – the party it had earlier pronounced losers. The court went further on that route of confusion setting aside the judgement of the tribunal that had earlier sacked the governor and which it had earlier affirmed. It went farther further awarding costs against the APC, the party it had earlier pronounced winners: “The sum of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira only) is hereby awarded as costs in favour of the appellant and against the 1st respondent,” the CTC read. Was that an error or two parallel judgements of the same case, one grafted onto the other by karma?

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Judges are traditionally like eagles – they are not expected to flock and join the crowd to make silly mistakes. That is perhaps the reason why the Romans said an Eagle does not catch flies. When a court judgement has the type of ‘mistakes’ you find in exam scripts of below-average pupils, know that the Eagle of the nation now flies down to hunt flies. The poet is a prophet. William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) saw this Kano conundrum over 100 years ago. His poet-persona speaks in ‘The Second Coming’ of “a shape with lion body and the head of a man…” That is a monster – the image of a judgement that says both parties have won.

Cynthia Gray was the director of the Centre for Judicial Ethics of the American Judicature Society. In 2004, she published in the Hofstra Law Review an article on ‘The line between legal error and judicial misconduct: balancing judicial independence and accountability.’ A Nigerian judge reading the piece would be happy to cite it as a proof that misbehaviour in the temple of justice is not copyrighted for Nigeria. There are cases cited there that leaves mouths unclosed – like more than one judge caught deciding cases by lot in the open court. One judge decided a child custody case by flipping a coin; another asked the courtroom to vote on the guilt or otherwise of a man charged with battery: “If you think I ought to find him not guilty, will you stand up?” When that judge was charged with misconduct, his defence was that he called for an audience vote to “involve the public in the judicial process.” Some of those errant judges argued that they were right; some said they did not know it was wrong to be wrong. If a judge has no clue as to which is the way between the bush and the road, we should know that the society is in trouble. As Gray argues “it would be incongruous if the principle: ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ applies to everyone but those charged with interpreting and applying the law to others.”

The day the Kano CTC scandal broke, I sat down with my Nigerian-American friend for a sad chat on the Kano fiasco. What is this? The court explained it as a “clerical error” but my friend said: “That’s neither a faux pas nor a slip of judgement. That’s a revelation!” A revelation?! I thought that was deep. W.B. Yeats probably saw this too and also told us how it may end: “Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely, the Second Coming is at hand.” Even non-Christians know the implication of the ‘second coming’. It signposts, first, the coming of the “rough beast” slouching “towards Bethlehem”, then the end of the world.

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A convulsing world denies its terminal illness. It is not true that if you find yourself in a hole you should stop digging. If you dig horizontally you may escape the enemy’s snare at the end of your tunnel. The appeal court appeared to have done exactly that. It doubled down, boring a tunnel of explanations on how its cock turned to a bull within five days. It said the sin it committed was a mere “clerical error.” Could three whole paragraphs carefully written with words correctly spelt be called a ‘clerical error’. The World Law Dictionary defines ‘clerical error’ as “a small mistake (eg a spelling mistake) made by accident in a document.” No one, apart from the judges who sat in that court, knows exactly what happened. We can only guess. The court should just go quietly into the night. It is a very bad, low moment for Nigeria itself.
Where else can this “clerical error” be found in the history of court judgements? I spent the weekend doing some searches for similar errors in history and around the world. The nearest I could find was the 1941 Bastajian v Brown case decided by the United States Supreme Court. On May 14, 1936, a trial judge made a decision entry in the court records. It was his conclusion on a real estate case. He wrote: “395524. Blanche H. Comstock v. James E. Brown, et al. Cause heretofore tried and submitted, the court now orders judgement for defendants.” Court records showed that “a year expired during which time no findings of fact and conclusions of law were submitted to the court. On about May 11, 1937, findings of fact and conclusions of law and a judgment prepared by C. P. Von Herzen, one of plaintiff’s attorneys, were filed by him with the clerk to be presented to the judge; they were signed by the judge and filed on June 4, 1937.” It turned out that what the judge signed was the direct opposite of his May 1936 decision and entry. The cheated side read what was signed and complained to the judge. They called his attention to what the decision truly was. On September 29, 1937, the judge issued a corrective order agreeing with the complainant/defendants that the said judgment was signed by his court “inadvertently and by mistake, and did not express the intent of this court nor the true judgment rendered herein, and that the signing of the same by said court constituted a clerical mistake.” The judge further held that the plaintiffs’ “presentation of said Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and said Judgment to this Court for signature constituted a fraud and deception practiced upon this Court in misrepresenting and misstating the true decision of the court after the lapse of a long period of time…” The case became a very controversial one that went up to the Supreme Court. On December 19, 1941, the Supreme Court ruled that the judge properly exercised his powers by “vacating the judgement and the finding of fact and conclusions of law upon which the judgement was rested.” Friends and beneficiaries of the Nigerian Appeal Court would read this case and say: “you see, there is no new thing under the sun.” They would refer us to the author of the book of Ecclesiastes: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

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But I think they should wait: A layman like me will easily see that the contentious judgement in the US case was drafted by the counsel of the plaintiffs for the judge to sign. And he signed. Anyone in Nigeria who would seek to benefit from that case should prepare to explain how judges of the second highest court in the land wrote ‘yes’ when they meant to write ‘no’. The Court of Appeal has not disowned the authorship of the judgement; it wrote and signed it. It even, after its delivery, dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s for more than four days before releasing the CTC The court has not told us how the “error” crept into its spick and span work.

It is so nice that this case has moved up to the Supreme Court. We should all look forward to reading how the apex court will “transform the uncertainty” of the case to the certainty of untainted reasoning. One thing, however, appears true here: The poet is a prophet. Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ derives its title from the poetic prescience of W. B. Yeats. It foretells the horrific “error” that was certified by the Court of Appeal last week. I will be surprised if anyone says things are alright with the Nigerian system. With every passing day, sheets of darkness unfurl. The innocent have long lost their innocence; an epidemic of guilt without shame distresses the land. That is why you would hear the unclad Court of Appeal, while sacking Bauchi State Speaker on Friday accusing INEC of “dancing naked in the market”. Before “the Second Coming”, Yeats says the falcon will no longer hear the falconer. Where succour used to be, what you see is anarchy. The poet foretells all that. As the gyre widens, we feel the silence of philosophers and the ignorant chatter of promoters of vile excuses. The best in Nigeria today “lack all conviction”; the worst is “full of passionate intensity.”

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Letter To Governor Ademola Adeleke




Tunde Odesola

Your Excellency,

At the risk of being accused of ‘famzing’ the Osun State First Family, I will, nonetheless, stand at the Aisu Junction, off the Gbongan-Osogbo Road, which leads to a stretch of houses belonging to the Adelekes, open my mouth yakata and proudly declare myself a friend of the illustrious Adeleke clan of Ede.

My esteemed Governor, I have no relationship with you, but your eldest brother, the great Serubawon of Osun politics, Alhaji Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, even in death, remains an unforgettable friend, who humbly related with me, despite his towering political height.

Having friends in equal measures within the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress in Osun State, I’m like the swivel door that sees indoor and outdoor secrets, but which remains dispassionate because I’m sworn to the journalism creeds of fairness and balance called s’òtún, s’òsí, ma ba ‘bìkanjé.

Permit me to clear the insinuation that the brouhaha drowning common sense in the State of the Living Spring, following your unwise sacking of the Osun State Chief Judge, Justice Adepele Ojo, is related to your relationship with Chief Ramon Adedoyin, the proprietor of Hilton Hotel in Ile-Ife, where a postgraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Timothy Adegoke, was killed in November 2021.

My investigation shows you have no such relationship with Adedoyin to warrant sticking your neck out for a murderer. I know that the son of a late Balogun of Ede, Chief Raji Ayoola Adeleke, can’t eat anything harder than plantain. Your round cheeks, chubby physique and break-dancing prowess should’ve told the perpetrators of the allegation that your passion doesn’t include murder.

If they allege that you danced on water or rolled on your head with your legs oscillating faster than a colonial ceiling fan, Osun people wouldn’t have doubted it. But it’s a lie that you want Ojo out as CJ because she jailed Adedoyin.

Going by the judgment of the Osun State High Court, and as the Lord lives, Adedoyin will die by hanging, a method designed to break the neck and choke a person to death as efficiently as possible. To get his comeuppance, the hangman’s noose will first encircle Adedoyin’s neck. He will be dropped a distance higher than his height through a trapdoor and the rope will hold his body in sudden fatal suspension, as the noose snaps the cervical spine that connects his head to his neck. He will die like a cockroach within a minute or two.

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Your Excellency, I wish to tell you the truth in a way that Serubawon wouldn’t see me as being too harsh or not respecting our relationship. I’m torn between the devil and the deep blue sea. But I won’t sell my soul to the devil nor jump into the sea. I’ll tell the truth in a palatable way and keep under lock and key the horsewhip I used on that hemp-smoking monarch who banned Oro worshippers from practising their religion.

By birth and residency, I’m a citizen of Lagos but by ancestry, I’m an Osun indigene. I deliberately stay away from Osun politics and seldom comment on statecraft except on highly unignorable issues like when the immediate past Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Rt. Honourable Timothy Owoeye, bathed with blood in public. Owoweye is my friend but I couldn’t overlook his indiscretion. I wasn’t as miffed with Owoeye as I was miffed with the APC leadership that made him Speaker despite the bath in a pool of blood. Even if Owoeye was a victim of swindlers, the APC shouldn’t have made him Speaker.

Baba Bayo, I’ll give a few instances to show how differently Serubawon ran his show. He had given a car to the late highlife maestro, Ede-born Pa Fatai Olagunju aka Rolling Dollar, and had kept quiet about it. I was at the country house one day for an interview when he told me about the gift to Rolling Dollar. First, I was shocked that Dollar had no car. Second, I told Serubawon that the gift was newsworthy. “Tunde, shey o feel pe ka publish e?” he asked. I said yes. “Ok, let’s publish it,” he agreed.

The story made such a good read in PUNCH that Adeleke invited me to the permanent orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps in Ede, where he donated cars, buses, motorcycles, sewing machines, grinding machines, deep freezers, etc to his constituents because Baba Dollar was present at the event. I had a lengthy interview with the octogenarian Dollar at the event.

Boda Nuru, you didn’t handle the CJ issue well at all. I’ll give you another example of how Serubawon handled a tricky case. While on a governorship campaign tour shortly after Osun State was created out of Oyo State in 1991 by ruthless ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, Serubawon’s convoy was halted by some supporters at a stream in a town (name forgotten). Serubawon, who had returned from the US to contest the election, said, “They told me to step out of the convoy and come into the stream to drink water so I could feel their plight. Tunde, I had to alight o. The road divided the stream into two. On one side of the road was the ‘good’ water from the stream while on the other side of the road was murky water in which people washed cars, motorcycles and clothes. I walked to the ‘good’ side, cleared the water with my hands and drank o, Tunde.”

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He asked, “Do you know what happened after I entered my car? We moved away from the stream and I quickly told my people to get me antibiotics from the First Aid Box in one of our vehicles in the convoy.” “Did you have stomach upset thereafter?” I asked. “No, I was fine,” he replied, smiling.

Mr Governor, the political empire you inherited from your late charismatic egbon was united, with the whole of Ede-North and Ede-South local government councils always behind him. Today, Ede, the home of professors, SANs, technocrats, business moguls and military generals, is not as united as it was during the time of Serubawon. For instance, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Mexico, Chief Adejare Bello; Brigadier General Abiodun Adewimbi (retd.), Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Letters, Prof Siyan Oyeweso, among others, are some of Ede indigenes who were part of the Serubawon political family but who are not with you today.

Last born, you will recall that the father of Chief Justice Ojo, Balogun Osungbade, became the Balogun of Ede after your father, who became Balogun in 1976, passed onto eternity in 1993. However, Ojo’s purported removal was as shoddy as the removal of the Rector, Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, Dr Tajudeen Odetayo, on July 11, 2023, and the removal of the Head, O-Ambulance, Dr Segun Babatunde, both of which started with unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

Baba B-Red, Serubawon, who was older than his immediate younger brother, the father of superstar singer Davido, Mr Adedeji Adeleke; his younger sister, Yeyeluwa Modupe Adeleke; and yourself, with a gap of two years between each sibling, wouldn’t have replaced Odetayo, who has a PhD with an Ede indigene, Mr Kehinde Alabi, who is less qualified than the rector, deputy rector and many other lecturers of the institution.

Mr Jackson, I pray your administration wouldn’t be remembered only for àlùjó, shaku-shaku and fàájì repete because your government appears lethargic to deep thinking. How do you explain, Your Excellency, that the petition written by one Comrade Damilola Esekpe, a director of communications of a faceless agency in Abuja, was what the Rt Hon. Adewale Egbedun-led Osun State House of Assembly used to decide the fate of Ojo? How? Also, the statement containing the allegations for which you suspended Ojo didn’t mention the agency that Esekpe works for in Abuja. And this was the statement used in deciding the fate of the CJ!? How more childish can a government be? The PUNCH correspondent in Osun State, Mr Bola Boladale, corroborated my investigation that the statement containing the allegations against Ojo, signed by Esekpe, and circulated by OSHA, didn’t say the agency Esekpe works for. How infantile!

This shoddiness strengthens the claim of victimisation against the CJ just as it raises an eyebrow at other sackings by the Adeleke government.

After he lost re-election into the Senate in 2011, Serubawon still went ahead to distribute hundreds of cars, buses, refrigerators, sewing machines, etc to his constituents. I asked him why he went ahead to distribute the largesse instead of returning them to the sellers and asking for refunds. He said, “Many of these people you see, their hopes depend on these things. I have promised them, I must fulfil my promise, win or lose.” That’s the largeness of Serubawon’s heart. He wasn’t petty and narrow-minded.

Justice Ojo isn’t a saint. If Adeleke wants to catch the annoying monkey, he should come with clean hands. Knee-jerk reactions to issues show immaturity and unpreparedness.


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