JUSTICE Thomas Damar Naron, chairman of the odious first Osun State Elections Petition Tribunal, swore to live a life of fairness. That was why he read law. He also swore to uphold justice. That was his creed as a judge in the Nigerian judicature.
But with the odium-soaked judgment he and his four other colleagues delivered in Osogbo on July 15, 2008, the judge not only slaughtered justice on the rotten altar of cheap lucre, he damaged beyond measure, the dignity and integrity of the Nigerian judiciary. He and his shameless colleagues wilfully profaned their wigs and cheerfully embraced reckless folly, when dignified wisdom should be their lot. They will live with the consequences of their evil action for the rest of their lives.
To start with, they have begun a life of fugitives – fugitive from the law, fugitive from decency, fugitive from conscience, fugitive from justice, fugitive from sanity and fugitive from peace of mind that conquers all worries. That explained why they were ferreted away like common criminals after their criminal judgment.
Those the state paid to deliver justice but who soil their hands and sear their souls with the sweet poison of illicit money have murdered sleep. They are doomed to sleeping no more. Like the dead and forgotten Bassey Ikpeme before them, they are fated to ending up in disgrace.
The Naron Tribunal was indeed blight on the Nigerian judiciary and a blot to judicial probity worldwide. The tribunal was a stone-age invasion of present realities of a judiciary trying to throw itself off the yoke of the infamy of the past. It is either the judicial authorities throw off this cheeky affront or Naron and co will surely throw the courts off their dignified pedestal and bury them in muck. That, of course, would be the end of Nigeria as a civil society.
From the very beginning, the voodoo rulings that Naron and co dished out were just mind-boggling. And so mind-boggling too were the conspiratorial silence the Nigerian judicial authorities had mounted, ignoring the Action Congress’(AC) many petitions against the brazen bias and blatant double-standard that the tribunal had made its shameless lot.
That this irresponsible and reprehensible conduct came after a people killed, raped and abused en-route to stealing their vote was heart-rending indeed. The Osun case was no closely contested case of two contestants running neck to neck. It was no close race decided by the proverbial photo finish.
Rather, it was a clear-cut win and loss. Rauf Aregbesola and his AC won clearly. Olagunsoye Oyinlola and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost badly. Yet, in the open glare of a bewildered electorate, the defeated grabbed victory in a swagger and dared the legitimate winner to come reclaim his mandate if he could. It is infernally shameful that Naron has lent the hitherto hallowed name of the judicial to this monumental swindle!
In this fatally flawed judgment, the Naron tribunal profaned everything about the judiciary, and jeered on the justifiably injured to take the laws into their own hands. Whereas the judiciary is the third estate of the realm precisely to maintain sanity by fair adjudication, Naron and co have turned it into another boondoggle in the hands of the lunatic fringe of the Nigerian power jungle. Indeed, by its shameful conduct, Naron may have affixed a judicial seal on this putative lunacy and damned the consequences!
Everything about that judgment and everything about that tribunal was a travesty. It is doubtful, in the history of judicial adjudication in Nigeria , if judges in a case ever exchanged text messages with counsel before them right in the court room and still have the temerity to have claimed to have delivered judgment!
It is an affront of no mean dimension that Naron and co, neck deep in the scandal exposed by that earth-shaking story in TheNews, had the effrontery to dismiss such devastating piece of evidence as speculative and went ahead to deliver a fatally tainted judgment.
It is doubtful if the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) has ever had such muck thrown at its rich and shiny silk, as contained in the weighty allegations of heinous misconduct that hangs like an albatross on the neck of Kunle Kalejaiye, SAN. The mere mention of such a scandal would make fallen titans, like Chief FRA Williams and the great Obafemi Awolowo puke in their graves. Yet, the embattled lawyer had the affront to show his face in court on the so-called judgment day, instead of hurrying post-haste to clear his honour and dignity.
Well, will the higher judicial authorities suffer this gargantuan assault on their collective dignity and on the sanity of a civilised society? The choice is theirs! Meanwhile, whatever action they take will determine whether our society will join the leagues of the truly civil or slip back into the Hobbessian state of nature, even as the judiciary chokes for now in its new-found odium.
•This piece first published on Friday July 25, 2008 is repeated due to popular demand. -Editor