Oct 8, 2016

Who will speak for the judiciary – Dunmade Onibokun

Who will speak for the judiciary – Dunmade Onibokun
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
by Martin Niemöller

In the past 24hours, the homes of various judicial officers across the country have been besieged by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS), based on allegations bothering on corruption. According to the Punch Newspaper, operatives of the Department of State Service between late Friday night and the early hours of Saturday simultaneously invaded the houses of two Justices of the Supreme Court as well as two judges of the Federal High Court, including the home of a judge in Rivers State.

The commando style with which these actions were taken by the DSS is quite worrisome, especially in a country that is called a democracy where everyone is entitled to their fundamental human rights of freedom, equity and justice.    

This scenario reminds me of the poem by Martin Niemöller, where he described the penalty for keeping quiet in the face of tyranny. When the DSS and the Police trampled on the rights of Nigerians, the courts did not save them. When political opponents of the present government administration were arrested and not given a fair trial, the courts held their hands back. Now that they have come for the judiciary, who will speak out on their behalf? Certainly not the common Nigerian, who has no belief in the Nigerian legal system. 

Corruption must be expunged from our system, we all agree but we must not in that guise invite tyranny, disregard for the rule of law and dictatorship to take its place. It is sad that we have become a country where official authority comes before the rights of every Nigerian and the rule of law is being breached by the very people put in place to safeguard them. 

The Executive places itself as the leader of the various tiers of government, forgetting that the doctrine of separation of powers still hold true till this day. If as a people, we do not brace ourselves against the direct breach of our legal rights by security agencies and raise our voices against the unlawful acts of State agencies, we may as well put guns to our heads and pull the trigger, for it means one day, the DSS will unlawfully lay siege at your house and no one will be there to help.

Dunmade Onibokun

Photo Credit - www.timeforequality.org