Former Governor James Onanefe Ibori who was perceived to be a god in the Nigerian political space has finally been brought to his kneels. A man who transverse the entire political terrains like a whirl wind and often described as a godfather and a hero has finally been shown to the world by the U.k court as a “common criminal”.
Clearly this sentencing has revealed to us (Nigerians) once again that the greatest obstacle impeding the collective growth of our nation is corruption. Many may celebrate the fact that Ibori finally got what he deserved but the question is how can the Nigerian state purge itself of these kinds of “common criminals” occupying political offices across the country? This is fundamental because we have seen from the Ibori episode that one man political positioning in society is capable of destroying the destinies of millions of people if he is not checked. The Nigerian state has often been taken for a ride by these elements for too long and now I wonder what lessons we can truly learn from this U.K court sentencing. The U.k is simply telling us that it has the moral fiber to sanction corruption if it rears its head away in their domain, a virtue the Nigerian system completely lacks.
For me, corrupt leaders will continue to rear their ugly head in our polity unless we ourselves take concrete and drastic measures against corruption and not wait until foreign countries prosecute our own leaders for such. What a shame on us.
This assertion therefore buttress the fact that our enforcement and judicial institutions are not only weak but they also aid and abet the corruption circle we all see today amongst the political class.
From Kaduna to Asaba, Nigerian court made a charade of this same case and discharged and acquitted Ibori but right there in the U.K, the almighty James Onanefe Ibori confessed to criminal charges and abuse of office. This therefore leaves me to wonder on what kind of judicial institution we are building in this country?
Judgment such as this indeed proofs that the west will no longer tolerate leaders who will impoverish their own people and then steal from them just to go gallivant abroad. The U.K has clearly taken a bold stance, let us hope and pray that America, Canada and other European countries will follow suite in prosecuting these kinds of persons who will destroy their home countries and take to such places as safe heaven.
This should leave serious concern to us as a people, what kind of persons do we all give our mandate to lead us? Is this system of governance truly the best for the Nigerian state? How can our judicial institutions reflect itself as an impartial umpire in its judgments’ so we can truly get justice?
DEPT OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS