Above the Law

As a lifelong student of the martial arts and a movie buff, I’ve always been interested in martial arts films. One of my favorite is a 1988 action flick entitled, Above the Law, the film debut of aikido master Steven Seagal. The movie deserves attention, for its title and story that captures the symptom of our postmodern society that begs immediate intervention.

No one is above the law!

That’s the thing I’ve heard since I was a kid in school. It was one of the foundational principle of our country; our teachers told us, and the sort of thing that should distinguish our system of government from tin-pot dictatorships and authoritarian regimes we had experienced. It was supposed to be sacrosanct.

Supposed to be; but I no longer believe that’s the way it is. Just look around.

Let’s take the anecdotal evidence first.

About a year ago, the acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), slumped forward in his chair less than an hour into his session in front of a committee in the House of Representatives. The panellist put as much between the lines as they adjourned the sessions hurriedly asking that an ambulance be brought in to take the acting managing director away — cough … crook … cough — Since then, we are yet to know the outcome of the investigation and apparently no one was brought to book by the law over the alleged mismanagement of funds allocated to a development commission in the country’s oil-rich region.

The law did nothing.

But this isn’t just about politicians.

It’s also about some spiritual leader, those sexual predators who should have been jailed years ago for rape and human trafficking.

Instead, they got to victimize even more young women because a general, exemption or immunity from liability to error or failure; in particularin theological usage, the supernatural prerogative by which the Church of Christ is, by a special Divine assistance, preserved from liability to error in her definitive dogmatic teaching regarding matters of faith and morals.

But this isn’t just about #metoo, either.

It’s also about cyber crooks that  engage in fraud, money laundering and monetary tractions in property derived from specified unlawful activities in millions of dollars— and that’s only what was lost by some Americans, and doesn’t count for the ripple effects around the world. None of those guys did a day, either.

(Well, OK. There was one.)

But this isn’t just about scammers’ greed in array of exotic rides.

It’s also about business moguls who own legitimate companies, mostly money laundering and tax evasion.

A Lagos judge sentenced Wilson; my neighbour for many years to four years in prison — more than three years ago. He’s still out on an appeal bond while the Supreme Court tries to figure out a way to set him free.

But this isn’t just about Wilson, either.

It’s about the corrupt Nigerian justice system — a system filled with little investigators and prosecutors who find it’s easy to make cases against the poor while ignoring crimes committed by the rich and powerful.

But this isn’t just about weak-willed bureaucrats.

It’s about The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) who is often responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings and enforced disappearances every year. The majority of cases go uninvestigated and unpunished. The families of the victims usually have no recourse to justice or redress. Many do not even get to find out what exactly happened to their loved ones.

And yet, the perpetuators haven’t spent a day behind bars.

This isn’t cynicism. It’s not  my imagination.

Things really are different now, our justice system is supposed to send a message: to the lawful and the lawless, alike.

We’re sending a message, alright. Just not the right one.

Plenty of people are above the law.

Just not you and me. It’s time to puncture the myth we learned in high school civics. Lots of people are above the law.

Like a cancer invading the human body, it appears that more and more people, especially those who occupy responsible positions in both government and major corporations, believe and act like they are above the law. The culture of corruption that accompanies this insidious disease must be stopped “stat” and should never be tolerated. We shouldn’t feel above the law in any way. Be it breaking civil offenses like not wearing face masks at public gatherings,  zoning regulations, licensing requirements, traffic violation, illegal waste disposal and all sort of other things or engaging in  criminal  offense. We shouldn’t feel – that the rules that apply to others do not apply to me. – “exception-making.” Breaking the simplest of the law is an offence and should be avoided.  One of the features of a civilised society is laws or the rules and regulations which are in function for the smooth functioning of the society. A good knowledge as to why we need to follow and respect laws is very crucial for development of our society, we must know the adverse effects if we don’t comply with the set rules. These rules are in place so as to ensure harmony for all of us together, and if we don’t comply then it results in chaos.

8 thoughts on “Above the Law

  1. In Nigeria, the law is only applicable to the poor and those without ‘long legs’. Isn’t it ironical that those who make and enforce the law are the same who break it? Starting from the #1 citizen.

    It’s even more disheartening to note that the system and realities on ground make it almost impossible for a good Nigerian to obey the law.

    Everyone on the streets is mad. Well, almost everyone.

    • I agree with your submission especially the last statement about everyone on the streets being mad, the positive crew being mad and angry about the situation considering the fact that there’s little that can be done to change it as much as they really want to.

      • Hmmmmm… Interesting!

        It’s great to have you here Kom. There is plenty in the world we cannot control or even influence.
        Rather than getting mad about the mad situation of things; we should channel the madness to changing ourselves. Martin Luther King Jr. was known to quote Gandhi, suggesting we “be the change you want to see in the world.” This is a more active form of changing your self that does not imply any acceptance of the way things are. Rather, it suggests a modeling of the way you think things should be. If you think the minimum wage is too low, pay more if you are in the position to do so. If you think society is becoming crass and rude, then be polite. If you abhor violence, be gentle. Model your gentleness in the midst of your violent neighborhood, even if this places you at risk.

        Thanks again for being in my corner.

    • You have raised a very valid point Priscilla; one which sets my mind on Goldsmith’s words in his book “The traveler”; “Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law. The quotation points out the helplessness of the poor to get justice, and the might of the rich to mold law to their favor.

      Our laws should be for all and sundry. The constitution of our country should declare the right of all citizens, rich or poor, to get law as all are considered equal in the eyes of law.

      Warmest thanks for your contribution.

  2. Dear writer, you have posited right. The worst and ominous is the government and those in power trying hard to silence people from speaking up against this malady. And to think we’re the ones paying these guys salaries by way of heavy taxes. Smh!!

    • Thanks Kay, We must never get weary of upholding the rule of law in our nation and demanding good governance. The Control of most Nigerian perfidious politicians is our divided societies: the Politics of fear is the game they play. They instill fear by bullying the media, causing chaos, brewing anarchy etc. so as to keep the people quiet because they understand that we’re only as strong as we’re united. We must never relent!

      Thanks again for your contribution.

  3. Interesting perspective. The law like they say, is an ass. The Nigerian example defies objective rationalisation. In Nigeria, we have more than one set of law on a subject within the jurisdiction.

    That’s why we have the Penal Code in the North, and the Criminal Code in the South. We have the Sharia Law in the North and the Common Law in mostly the South. So if a Northerner who submits to the Sharia Law migrates to the South, which law will be applicable to him in the likely event that he breaks the law? That is a perspective that “above the law” could be discussed. Most of the time, a Northerner who submits to the Sharia Law of the North is above the law in the South. You find the unseen hands of circumstances and situations working to ensure that such person who obviously is known to have broken the law in the South is made to stay above the law.

  4. Ahem! this is a varied way of viewing the above the law concept. It is quiet a stimulating standpoint. There are a lot of questions surrounding the rule of law in Nigeria. The system seems broken, and it is generally accepted that the level of justice is shallow. Thanks for pointing out one of them that I hadn’t the slightest idea of.

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