The last recourse for justice for the average Nigerian is the Nigerian legal system. It is where we go when we have been wronged, when we try to force the government to honour its obligations to us, to settle disputes. It is also the place where some of the most egregious crimes against average Nigerians have been perpetuated. Our prisons are full of suspects who have rot away without being officially charged because our legal system can be manipulated by police officers. Our courts are full of corruption cases against high ranking officials which go nowhere because these men have the resources and the incentive to frustrate the system and now, we are finding out that even the process which determines who gets to ascend to a position authority in the Nigerian Bar Association, the umbrella under which all practitioners of the legal system fall under is corruption and susceptible to rigging.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission recently brought a 14 count charge against two members of the NBA, John Demide and Sarah Ajibola. They are charged for tampering with the 2018 NBA general elections by altering the electronic voting process.
By altering the data of 1000 voters, the accused were alleged to have swayed the elections in favour of Mr. Paul Usoro, a senior advocate of Nigeria. With these accusations and the corruption it implies being discovered at the very top of the Nigerian Bar Association, the institution on which the mandate to train lawyers who obey the rule of law has been compromise, as have been all the cases overseen and cases taken under Mr. Usoro’s rule. To have to re-examine those cases and come to a conclusion on their veracity is time and resources we simply do not have. But this is what happens we don’t when the people tasked with implementing structural change are too busy trying to gain choice spots by winning elections.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.