His gait is respectable, his carriage magisterial. He speaks gesticulatively, a wordsmith and prolific essayist at the same time. What he lacks in his spartan physique he ampfully gains in his gargantuan brain and incisive intellectual acumen.
He literally eats, drinks, swallows, digests, dreams and romances law, with the passion with which a butterfly hogs flowers’ nectar. As a social critic, he fights executive impunity. He loathes oppression and repression. He battles court cases frontally, like an incensed bulldog, with the dexterity of a practised Esan egbabonalimi acrobat. He is dreaded by opposing counsel, respected by judges and adulated by clients. A towering, iconic legal prodigy, this detribalised pan-Nigerian is a legal and jurisprudential phenomenon.
Welcome, birthday boy, Chief Oluwole Oladapo Olanipekun, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, FNIALS, the Ikere Ekiti-born philanthropist extra-ordinaire, as you turn 65. Your matchless altruism, indigent scholarship scheme, uncharted exploits as Pro-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, and now Pro-Chancellor, Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo, your building and donation of a Bar centre to the NBA, Ikere Ekiti, Vice Chancellor’s lodge to ACU, etc, pale into insignificance when matched against your scriptural and puritanic backgrounds of “God first”. Though quite wealthy by any standard, Wole’s disarming modesty skillfully veneers opulence in the royal garments of simplicity, gregariousness, humility, smiles and affability. Olanipekun, father of a SAN, Dr. Oladapo, and a clan of other lawyers, is a delight to watch in forensic advocacy and cerebral masturbation. His erudition, lucidity of thought, organizational clarity and masterly deliverance are breath taking in width, depth, amplitude and plenitude. This total family man speaks truth to authority with the ease and fierceness with which hot knife cuts through butter. Happy birthday, my titanic and ebullient egbon, even as I wish you longer years of unquantifiable service to our beleaguered fatherland.
Acting CJN Walter Onnoghen, the future of Nigeria’s democracy in your hands!
On November 11, 2016, Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, the Okurike, Biase born, University of Legon, Ghana – trained, 1978 called – to – Bar Cross Riverian, was sworn in as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. For the records, his name was forwarded by the NJC, chaired by former CJN, Justice Mohammed Mahmud, to President Muhammadu Buhari since October 13, 2016. Buhari was expected to forward same to the Senate for confirmation.
The country had waited, with bated animation, sumnabulistically, for the president to do so, since under section 230, he was the most senior justice of the Supreme Court. That never happened. Rather, confirming deep-seated suspicions that there were underground, surreptitious and clandestine moves to guillotine Onnoghen out of his natural judicial heritage, Buhari refused, failed and/or neglected (this is lawyers’ legalese), to forward his name to Senate for confirmation. Rather, he chose the unusual step of giving legal imprimatur to NJC’s forced fall-back plan B position, of swearing in Onnoghen as a mere “acting CJN”. No sir, this is grotesque, wrong and uncalled for. True, Section 234 (4) of the Constitution provides for an acting CJN, a tenure that can be renewed for a further three months on NJC’s recommendation (Section 234(5)). But, why appoint Onnoghen in an acting capacity? Why not simply substantive, as has been the custom and practice over the years? Why washing our hands with sputum while sitting by the river bank? Why eat cricket when there is real beef?
Is it because, as feared by many, Onnoghen is a Southerner, not a preferred northerner? The danger of an “acting” capacity status is that it has the unflattering tendency to unwittingly turn the “acting” person in to some form of puppet, robot, “yes-man”, or cannon fodder, wallowing in self pity and insecurity. Because such a person yeans for confirmation, he is thus ready and willing to do the puppeteer’s bidding, no matter how ignoble.
This uneasy fear is not dispelled, nor assuaged, by Justice Onnoghen’s hurried assurance to Buhari, during his “acting” capacity swearing-in, that he would accord the President “the fullest co-operation of the 3rd arm of government in the continuation of the war against corruption and misconduct in the Judiciary”. No sir, you missed it there. There sure are allegations of corruption and misconduct against some few members of the judiciary, not up to twenty out of over 5000. There is no conclusive proof yet. Charges and arraignment have just taken place against Justice Ngwuta of the Supreme Court and Ajumogobia of FHC. No trial, conviction and sentences yet, such as to inexorably conclude about any alleged “war against corruption and misconduct in the judiciary”.
Nor have these “misconduct and corruption” been as pervasive as trumpeted, such as to tar the entire judiciary with the paint brush of shame, odium and obloquy, as the Executive has so far painted. Sir, some identified few certified corrupt elements were publicly smoked out by your predecessor’s NJC, after due process, in accordance with cherished principles of rule of law. They were never shielded. Don’t allow public media trial and “lynch – judicial – officers” hysteria blur your clear vision of doing pure and undiluted justice. Your predecessor, Justice Mahmud, in his short stint, vigorously defended the judiciary against carefully choreographed frontal assault on this third arm of government which enjoys the doctrine of separation of powers (Sections 4, 5 and 6, of the 1999 Constitution), aptly theorized by great philosophers of old, like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and famously popularized by. French philosopher, Baron de Montesque (1748). Thus, our criminal justice system, is the Anglo–saxon accusatorial system (presumption of innocence, encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution), and not the French inquisitorial model (presumption of guilt).
Justice as depicted by Themis or Justitia, the blind-folded woman, with a sword and balance, is an allegorical personification of the moral force of justice, deaf to the blaring sirens of power, and numb to the furnace of legislative inferno. As the last hope of the common man, it acts as a protective sentinel at the gate of justice.
Perhaps sir, being buried in the mountainous piles of appeals where the Supreme Court is still laboriously ploughing through ancient cases of 2002/2005, your Lordship may not have known that your judiciary has been brutally assailed on all fronts, by hooded secret police, SSS (they prefer the sobriquet, DSS), who violently broke down doors of serving judicial officers between the ungodly hours of 1am – 5am, carted away judicial files, forced revered justices to lie face down in their pick-up vans, and scornfully treated them like animals, contrary to the preamble, sections 5 and 8 of the ACJA and sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution. You must have observed that the charges already proffered are laughable and have nothing to do with any so called “sting operation” or corruption, but alleged possession of multiple Nigerian and diplomatic passports, and alleged transfer of money, from the judges accounts, to other persons’ accounts.
You may not have known that the judiciary is under full blown siege and attack, with probability of total annexation, if not annihilation; that your ascension to the position of CJN, is a constitutional right under sections 230 and 231 of the 1999 Constitution, subject to Senate’s confirmation, and not at the behest of any benevolent benefactor or tin god. You must know, sir, that power belongs to God, and not man.
A most recent example is Donald Trump, the most excoriated, vilified, despised demagogue, who broke all known norms of political correctness, repeatedly abused Hispanics, Latinos, Spanish, Mexicans, African – Americans, women, disabled, Republican party leadership, Obama, the Clintons, Democrats, Washington, celebrities, etc. Yet, God crowned him king, even without political structures, and losing the popular vote, to Clinton. Do you know why sir? God! See Lamentations 3:37, Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:27; Exodus 8:19, Psalm 75:6, Isaiah 55:8-9, Ephesians 3:20.
Rely on God sir. Do your job without fear or favour, malice or ill-will. The world is watching to see how your NJC will tackle the impunity and tyranical excesses of this government, where cherished freedoms, liberties and human rights are in a state of recession and atrophy.
As a man of courage, impeccable judicial credentials and juristic luminousness of highest pedigree whom I had the privilege of appearing before in the 90s in the High Court, Calabar, later, Court of Appeal and the apex Court, your job in these trying times is daunting, but not insurmountable. May God guide you as you navigate through crocodile and sharks – infested oceans of national turbulence, executive lawlessness, legislative rascality and judicial ineptitude. Good luck sir.
When Bridget Agbahimes spirit cries for Justice
Shocker: the five men Muslim mob who on June 2, 2016, savagely murdered 74 year old Mama Bridget Agbahime in front of her stall in Kano, where she had lived for 30 years, for alleged blasphemy, have been reportedly set free by a Kano magistrate, on the directive of the State Attorney General, upon the DPP’s legal advice. Her alleged “blasphemy” was that she objected to an ablution performance by some Muslim youths, right in front of her shop, at Wambai market, Kano, in broad day light.
Good God! To be sure, the Attorney General could not have met the acid test of the provisions of section 211 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers him to enter a nolle prosequie, only if it is in the public interest, interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
His alleged reliance on sections 130 and 150 of the CPC to conclude the investigation disclosed “no case to answer”, because of lack of sufficient evidence, flies in the face of the simple fact that Bridget’s husband, Pastor Mike Agbahime, who personally beheld the horrific spectacle of his wife’s brutal dismemberment in cold blood before his very eyes, was never called to give evidence. This discharge is nothing short of crass impunity, brazen injustice, nepotic bigotry and judicial hara-kiri. It constitutes a ready recipe for organized chaos and anarchy. Remember Gideon Akaluka (hideously beheaded in 1995, in the same Kano, with his head grislyingly paraded on a spike along Kano streets); murdered Methodius Chimaijire, and Eunice Elisha, who was brutally hacked to death early morning in Kubwa, for preaching as a member of the RCCG, in July 2016. These are sad reminders of a disparate country, sorely yearning for nationhood, where ordinary mortals defend almighty and omniscient God, with ungodly hatred, venom, crudity and bestiality.
I hereby call upon the Kano State Government to immediately re-open this case and save Nigeria the horrors of this ludicrous circus of perversion of justice.