It is a socio-cultural habitual trait uniquely peculiar to an European, which is when a child is about to be put to sleep, a folktale is related to the apple in the eye of a loving parent, usually a story that actually never happened in reality, yet it is from such an untruthful concoction, moral character of piety, honesty, trust, courage and so many wonderful societal virtues are impacted into the life of an impressionable young mind. Thus for an African who have always found such contradictory stance in communal living mystifying, an alike incident that is even more bewildering happened a couple of months ago, when the current and pestering militant attacks, began to become an everyday affair within the length and breadth of the northern part of the country.
Actually it was an impromptu attack on a police station, allegedly by the Boko Haram sect, which virtually caught everyone including me unawares. Of course most of the civilian population abandoned their vehicles and began to run for dear life. However, it was the reaction of the police officers guarding the station which was interesting, as they joined the unarmed ordinary citizens in taking cover from the attack, though having being a witness to the type of weaponry and combat sophistication of the insurgent forces, I never blamed the now camouflaged men in black, on the their evident retreat from such as a tasking conflict of monumental proportion.
However, by some clairvoyant direction of fate, I was opportune to be near a radio during early evening news and the spokesman of the Kano state police command, was dramatically relaying the encounter of a dog fight that happened earlier in the day, which he called a real battle at the police post, that was fought and won gallantly by his officers and men in uniform. In fact a clever journalist sought to know whether any of the vanquished assailants had been caught, the direct answer was; they have cowardly runaway and melted into the mass of the frightened inhabitants of the area.
While I am yet to get to terms with what constitutes a true incident, within the realm of organizational thinking of the Nigerian security establishment, two happenings that occurred last week, only helped to solidify my confusion with operative procedure of our law enforcement agencies in the country.
When a supposedly complementing security bodies conspire to arrest two different sets of suspects in a single case, actually it was in an expedition to find the culprits complicit in the alleged political assassination of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, the principal private secretary to the governor of Edo state.
While the local police paraded a distinctly peculiar set of suspects, a bunch of armed robbers, the State Security Service came out with a not so new set of suspects, for a little closer look at these different set of the indicted, took one to the past criminal parades of the primary non-uniformed arm of the Nigerian security arrangement, as they bear a striking resemblance to the three suspects in the attempted kidnap and eventual execution of the European duo of Christopher McManus of Great Britain and Franco Limolinara of the Italian Republic, both in their physical appearance as well as the type of clothing they are wore in the released pictures.
While I was still trying to get out of the shock of such an attempt at strategic bungling of a case of monumental interest, within the realm of the public conscience, a dangerous comical stance was added to the cataclysmic mix, with the strident response of the Kaduna state police command, when the family house of the vice president of Nigeria was attacked by some assailants in Zaria, a residence that has a known history of attack, as it was also attacked during the 2011 election riots. Thus, evidently it is an abode under reconstruction, as such patently uninhabited and certainly stripped of portable valuables, when the value of cement, sand and water is discountenanced.
Yet the Nigerian police classified such an attempted crime within the premises of an armed robbery, for it was during a shootout with the robbers, upon which one of the suspects was caught. Indeed just like in the ancient folklores, one of the attackers was identified by one of the injured cops guarding the family lodge, when he was taken to the hospital for treatment. Then lo and behold the next patient by his bedside bears a photocopy resemblance to his tormentor, who had probable also being injured on his attempted unlawful attack of the vice president’s private residence, thus felt the rightful effrontery as a citizen of this great nation, to openly seek for medication in a government hospital. After all, since the law empowering medical personnel to treat patients on emergency without a police report had been passed, due diligence is not expected of a doctor on call when handling persons with a gunshot wounds.
The confusion lay in a single probable act of criminality, being recorded by the law significantly different from the fact of its actual occurrence. Unfortunately, that is the crux of the matter in the evident failure of our criminal justice system, which seems unable to reach fruition, from the time of reasonable suspicion of an alleged offender, to the likely arrest of a suspect, up to the conclusion of an investigation and the diligent prosecution of persons accused of probable infraction of the law. Thus for a system premised on the burden of proof always laying with the prosecution, a whimsical suspicion upon shoddy investigation followed by a tardy interdiction, could never result in a successful prosecution. In fact, of all the important processes leading to a diligent conviction, the government’s lawyer appropriately called the State Counsel only appears in the concluding stage in a prosecution leading to valid conviction.
Thus for the generality of the Nigerian people tortured by the failure of our judiciary, to administer justice to persons reasonably suspected of breaking the law, perhaps the deficiency does not primarily lie on the courts, but in the circumstances, inferences and situations leading to the appearances before the impartial temples of justice. As such individuals in the likes of Chief James Onanefe Ibori and Chief Erastus Akingbola, convicted for money laundering offences in the London courts, owe much of their tribulation to the effectiveness, doggedness, perseverance and professionalism of the London Metropolitan Police in seeking, searching and gathering watertight evidences that constitutes the necessary contents of an adequate case file, rather than any waltzing wizardry of a diligent prosecution of a competent Queens Counsel.