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Opinion

The Shackled Hall of Justice: Urgent Appeal for an End to the Judicial Coup in Nigeria, A Call for Change Amidst Nepotism -By John Egbeazien Oshodi

A Cry Against the Judicial Coup and Nepotistic Siege, Uniting for Change with Global and National Protests, Online Platforms, Media Engagement, and International Advocacy, Voiced by a Psychologist

In the annals of our legal history, a troubling chapter has been penned—a chapter that has left me, like many others, with a bitter taste of disillusionment. The headline, “A captured temple of justice,” published by Chidi Anselm Odinkalu in the Premium Times on October 8, 2023, echoed the very sentiments that have been churning in my stomach, causing an acidic reflux of despair. The phrase encapsulates the profound anguish many of us feel as we witness the very core of our judicial system crumble under the weight of nepotism and corruption.

With mounting frustration and a sense of urgency, I embark on this journey to address the heinous crimes against justice. The title, “The Shackled Hall of Justice,” encapsulates our collective outcry against a judicial coup that has gripped our legal institutions and a nepotistic siege that has suffocated fairness. Our battle is not just a local one; it’s a global call for change.

Here I delve into the heart of this crisis, armed not just with reports from the vast tapestry of Nigerian media, both online and traditional news outlets, as well as international news sources but with the fervent determination to shake the foundations of corruption.

I, a psychologist, lend my voice to this symphony of defiance, understanding the profound psychological injuries inflicted upon our society. This is not just an article; it’s a manifesto of our resilience, a testament to our refusal to accept a distorted version of justice.

I am acutely attuned to the psychological injuries inflicted upon our society. The weight of injustice bears down not only on our legal system but seeps insidiously into the very psyche of our people. It breeds cynicism, erodes trust, and leaves scars that transcend generations. The psychological toll of witnessing a once-revered institution succumb to the clutches of nepotism is immeasurable. It leaves us, the observers, with a profound sense of helplessness, as if our moral compass has been shattered, and we are adrift in a sea of ethical ambiguity.

In the prevailing environment dominated by nepotism and favoritism, individuals without influential connections face limited opportunities for fair consideration.

This reminds me of a media story of a female magistrate in 2021 in Abia State, resorting to mortgaging her house and paying a hefty bribe in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to secure a judicial position, sheds a glaring light on the insidious grip of nepotism and corruption strangling Nigeria’s judicial framework. This brave but tragically misguided act, driven by the sheer desperation of a broken system, ended in her untimely demise. This incident symbolizes the desperation felt by ordinary Nigerians who face entrenched nepotism and favoritism within the legal system.

By manipulating appointments to favor relatives and selected candidates, corrupt officials not only deny deserving individuals’ opportunities but also tarnish the integrity of the entire legal process. The tragic fate of the deceased magistrate, who went to extreme lengths, including risking her home and paying substantial amounts, epitomizes the despair faced by countless qualified candidates. Their aspirations are crushed under the weight of unfair practices, leaving them disillusioned and disheartened.

This blatant favoritism intensifies the challenges experienced by ordinary citizens, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and hopelessness where the average citizens are in a system rigged in favor of the privileged few. With many doing everything within their means to leave their native land, then who is left in this sea of societal immorality.

In the face of this moral quagmire, there emerges a potent defiance—a steadfast refusal to accept this perversion of justice. We, as a nation, are not mere spectators; we are active participants in a battle for the very soul of our legal system. Our cry reverberates not only through the hollow halls of our courts but across continents. It’s a call to use all sorts of non-bloody tactics against the tyranny of a judicial coup, a clarion declaration that we refuse to bow before the altar of corruption.

Ethically, we stand on solid ground, anchored by the unwavering principles of fairness, transparency, and integrity. The shackles that bind our hall of justice are not just physical; they are ethical chains that fetter the ideals upon which our society is built. In exposing this nefarious siege, we are not just holding a mirror to our legal system but also to our collective conscience.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, is part of the National Judicial Council (NJC) that makes appointments, yet we see his own son appointed as a judge of the Federal High Court and sworn in by him. Incredible!  This direct appointment of a family member raises concerns about nepotism within the highest echelons of the judiciary.

This year, the NJC convened to approve the elevation of son-in-law of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, President of the Court of Appeal’s. This individual had previously been appointed as a judge of the National Industrial Court of Nigerian (NICN), a mere six years earlier in 2017.

In the intricate tapestry of Nigerian justice, the saga of retired Justice Mary Odili unfolds like a bewildering scene from a satirical comedy. As her daughters ascend the judicial ranks, the glaring lack of fairness in this ascent raises profound questions in a nation brimming with over 200 million people, a place in which numerous talented lawyers struggle for recognition. Yet, amidst this tumultuous backdrop, the influence of Madam Justice Odili seems boundless. We anticipate another carefully crafted public speech, albeit one that sounds political, despite the retired judge’s knowledge that allusions to active or inactive judicial cases should be avoided. Yet, we are dealing with a judiciary marked by scant ethics and unfairness, especially in recent times. In this environment, the blurred line between impartiality and personal favoritism challenges the very essence of justice in our nation.

In the murky depths of nepotism and favoritism, institutions like the Nigeria Bar Association and the Media, meant to uphold legal ethics and public fairness, seem alarmingly powerless. Within the intricate maze of our justice system, the reek of nepotism permeates, staining the very essence of impartiality. These instances of favoritism are not mere anecdotes; they exemplify a judicial coup that has infiltrated our esteemed institutions. The sacred trust vested in these positions within the judiciary has been cruelly betrayed, replaced by a culture of entitlement that undermines the core principles of justice.

This pervasive pattern, where positions of influence are traded as family privileges, not only corrodes the ethical foundations of our legal system but also inflicts profound psychological wounds upon a nation yearning for equity. Our outcry against this nepotistic siege is more than a protest; it is a defiant roar against the essence of corruption. We unite as an unwavering force, unwilling to bow to the whims of the privileged few. Through global protests echoing our demands, online platforms amplifying our voices, media engagement spreading our truths, and international advocacy seeking justice on our behalf, we stand tall against this nepotistic tyranny.

The shackled hall of justice may tremble under the weight of corruption, but our collective voice, potent and resolute, will be the seismic force that dismantles these walls of nepotistic injustice. We rise not just for ourselves but also for future generations—a legacy of justice unblemished by the stains of favoritism and corruption, a legacy we are determined to bequeath to the world.

The audacious appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s own son to a Federal High Court judgeship strikes at the heart of judicial integrity, severely eroding our faith in the bedrock of our legal system. This egregious abuse of power is not an isolated incident but rather a symptom of a widespread disease infecting our legal institutions, corroding the very essence of fairness and impartiality.

In a just society, positions of influence should be earned through merit, integrity, and dedication, not bestowed as familial privileges. The psychological impact of such practices runs deep, sowing seeds of resentment and despair among the deserving, their aspirations crushed beneath the weight of entrenched favoritism.

Yet, amid this darkness, a resilient spirit emerges. We unite globally, raising our voices in a collective outcry that reverberates across borders. Online platforms become our battleground, where our digital footprints stand as testaments to our resistance, challenging prevailing norms. Media engagement becomes our amplifier, ensuring our truths are pierced through the fog of deception. International advocacy becomes our weapon, compelling the world to witness our unwavering struggle for justice.

From these wounds, a potent collective resolve rises, unyielding in its pursuit of change. The hall of justice might have momentarily dimmed, but our unified determination serves as the guiding light out of this darkness. Together, we stand not just against nepotism but against the very essence of injustice. Our demand reaches beyond mere change; it is a declaration of our inherent right to a fair and impartial judicial system.

In this battle devoid of violence, we harness the power of global protests, our collective cry for justice echoing through every street, town, and village. These protests, far from acts of aggression, represent our shared determination. We amplify our message through online platforms, where the world witnesses our struggle in real-time. Social media transforms into our battlefield, where our voices resonate louder, and our cause gains unstoppable momentum.

In our fight against the pervasive darkness of injustice, media engagement emerges as our mightiest weapon and our most impenetrable shield. Acknowledging the compromised state of traditional media outlets, we refuse to be silenced. Through online newspapers and democratic-driven television and radio stations, we boldly share our narrative with the world, exposing the chains that bind our hall of justice. We extend an open invitation to the global community, urging them to bear witness to our unwavering battle for fairness and transparency.

International advocacy stands as our guiding light, illuminating the path to justice and equity. With unwavering determination, we reach out to international organizations, human rights advocates, and diplomatic missions, urging them to stand in unwavering solidarity with us. Their support not only bolsters our cause but also serves as a reminder that our fight is not solitary. When we have credible names, authenticated as masters of judicial and political injustice, we will present them to the world, revealing the faces behind the malevolence.

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