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.

Dancing in the Rain: A Dream Deferred but not Denied

Abigail drove Jason to school on a Monday morning. Jason was excited and proud to have his grandma by him for his “show and tell”. His grandma was his most favourite person and he didn’t have a hard time telling his class that his grandma was a practicing nurse for thirteen years. Abigail enjoyed answering several questions from the children. It was so much fun. Finally she watched her grandson settle in his class. She had a cordial talk with Jason’s teacher, before she left to pick him up again at school closing time.

Abigail drove to the Crowell shopping mall, some distance away from Pearson Elementary School. As she was busy shopping for fresh groceries; moving up and down the aisles, she came across a very familiar face. The face hadn’t changed much. Abigail pushed her shopping trolley around and passed by the young man to be sure. He took no notice of her. She turned around again to see if it was really Onyeka; the nine year old boy she nursed many years ago at National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi. She hastened to follow him from behind, and overtook him.

“Are you Onyeka?” she said aloud. He heard her, and looked towards her direction. He took a closer look at her, and pointed his finger across to her, trying to be sure if she was the most compassionate nurse he used to know. “Nurse Abigail?” he asked.

“Yes, I am Onyeka,” he answered, with a loud shout. “Where did you go all these years? We wished to contact you, when we were told you left NOHIL, but we had no one to ask your whereabouts. My parents hated to ask anything about you from Nurse Rachael because we knew she didn’t like you at all,” he said.

“You did?” you were such an adorable boy back then, I am so glad you got your miracle,” she replied as she hugged him as firmly as she could. There was an explosion in her brain… the good sort… the type that carries more possibilities than she could be conscious of… but there were hundreds of questions there in that buzz of electricity… “I can’t believe this; you can walk now and you look great! How did this happen or is this really not Onyeka?

“Actually, I have been walking for over twelve years now. In fact, I had my spinal surgery a few weeks after you resigned with the help of Dr Willams Abade. He told us about his friend; Dr. Yasir Salimon; a renowned Nigerian-American neurosurgeon and academic who was starting out a healthcare development company with his wife, Perpetual. The company was launching out with free spinal surgeries to underprivileged Nigerians in Lagos state. That was my miracle! My condition fit perfectly with the description they needed. Dr Willams Abade provided them with all the medical history needed for the surgery.”

“Originally, Dr Willams Abade thought I would need two separate surgeries to complete the realignment. He also thought I might need to wear a body cast after the operation.

However, after examining my scans Dr Yasir  Salimon  was able to combine the surgeries into one and used only a brace on me. He came to Nigeria with implants and equipment from the US so that they could operate for free on people with spine-related problems like me. He was the lead surgeon and a couple of others assisted him at the time. They carried out about 10 surgeries and mine was one of them.
“I finally got to experience a completely unconscious ability to walk, stand, and chat with people without being reminded that I have pain to attend to and that’s what I call a medical miracle.”

Two months after my surgery and recovery period at home, I was ready to start the hard work of rehabilitation, which began with range-of-motion exercises, gait retraining and pool therapy. Rehabilitation was a slow process, it took 12 to 18 months; I underwent six weeks of inpatient rehabilitation. After completing six weeks inpatient rehabilitation, I began outpatient rehab. I stood for extended period of time and practiced walking with a cane. After six months my gait and walking mechanics had greatly improved.

My parents, older sister; Ada and I were not discouraged, we had our eyes on the prize — numerous dancing at family celebrations, afternoons of sunshine and playing and countless years of active companionship.

Dissimilar to numerous others with my background, I received a scholarship to study medicine in Stanford through the Agency for External Aid, a Nigerian government program which is targeted at improving the quality of life for Nigeria’s most vulnerable communities.

I went on to receive a combined MD/MSc degree at Stanford Medical School, Stanford, California and  I have recently completed my post-residency fellowship training in complex nerve reconstruction at Louisiana State University and complex spine surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; all in the States.

His narrative was quite unbelievable, shocking really. Abigail’s mind was sent reeling, unable to comprehend or process the array of achievements that he had grossed. She felt giddy with excitement. She wanted to run, to shout, and to tell everyone that her Onyeka had risen above his medical limitations. She felt pumped, excited, more alive than she had ever thought possible.

Over the years I have learnt never to cave in when bad circumstances occur. I realize that whatever happens to me only breaks the old me and build the new me. It’s my choice to stay down when things go wrong and never allow what happens to me, keep you down. I see every situation as a chance to become what I have always intended to be, hard times will not make me bitter but will leave me better,” he added with his trademark smirk  that Abigail recognized.

Heroic Of An Orphan – The Sun Newspaper Book Review

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were regarded as the Golden Age of Juvenile Literature, as classial works of juvenilia were produced, leading to the emergence of a new canon. Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s School Days, Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, Robert Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer are classic any shoolboy could easily barter for lollypop

This genre is seen as a new way of governing children’s behaviour than physical displine, using didacticism brightly coloured covers and page illustrations as an enticement. Juvenile literature (prose, drama and poetry) are writings directed at children to make them grow joyously.

The Adventures of Ofarimerechi is a fable that is not ony appealing to juveniles but also to adults because of the depth of the theme explored and the diction deployed. The bonus here is that the young reader must emerge from the reading exercise with rich, descriptive poetic language in his repertoire

The dominant theme in the book are bastiality and the tragedy of war and their overreaching consequences on every creature. Man has built beautiful cities, fancy cars, among other scientific innovation for himself, yet he has continued to make life miserable for animals in the bush, hunting them fir games and klling them for mischief. The author is worried by the descration of the ecosystem by man.

The two major charactees in the book Ofarimerechi (an 8-year-old boy) and Kudu (the talking antelope) are hard done by. While Ofa is orphaned by the war, Kudu is separated from the herd due to the same reason. When they run into each other, a bond of friendship quickly develops between them and their lifestyle becomes a shining example of what it means to live in peace and harmony – what humanity is lacking at the moment

The Adventures of Ofarimerechi enjoys a narrative combo: the third person point of view and the first person are weaved in the narrative. The story begins with the third person – “Once in the eastern village of Ogbunike, northeast of the Niger…” -and alternates with the first person narrative when the Talking Kudu begins to tell his own story: “I galloped desperately beneath the gleam of the evening…”

All through this titillating tale, the atmosphere switches between dark forebodings, unease and joy. We are told, from the begining of the story of Ofa liing in a workd that apprars to him to be like a netherworld; the grass is no longer growing due ti aerial bombardments for three years (the Nigerian Civil War?). From his hideout, “the sky was being torn asunder by a spinning thunderous tremor”

Our hero soon becomes a waderer lost in a forest where there is no indication of human life. Even the panting antelope he encounters, one of the suurvivors of the blitz, is scared to death: “Kill me already, and be over with it!” But Ofa swears. “I am not going to kill you.” When the animal returns, “you are about the only human who is not about to plunge an arrow through my back or sword into my chest”, we get the exact picture of how anguished the animal world feels about us.

Kudu’s exciting tale of his journey – meeting the wonderful pangoline and the Great Moa – tickles the orphan, filling him with awe and the spirit of adventure, and it’s an adventure that cuts across the grassland, the intoxicating Guinea Savannah with the glimpses of paradise. At the Mystical Garden, Ofa apoligises ti the elegant latite (Great Moa) for the destructive hunting expeditions of man on animals.

A turning point in the narrative is when Kudu us shot by hunters but is revived by the daring Ofa, using the mystical golden feather given to him by the Great Moa. Aside swelling the vocabulary of the young reader, The Adventure of Ofarimerechi offers invaluable geographical lessons on our flora and fauna. Names of different plants and animals and their peculiar habitats are worked into the tale, as the levitating physical setting of Enugu and the realm of fantasy commingle in a masterly disinvention of time and space. We  have the magic tree, the mystical garden, among others.

A page-turner makes you feel hunky-dory, yes. That’s what Linda Etuk’s juvenilia does to you. This is the type of story book that ought to be in the school curriculum.

The Sun Newspaper

Friday, July 27, 2018

By Henry Akubuiro