The ruling of the Court of Appeal in Ibadan ordering a fresh trial of the petition filed by Rauf Aregbesola, the Action Congress (AC) candidate in the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Osun, should be the last nail on the coffin of the inglorious career of Mr. (in) Justice Thomas Naron.
With the ruling, Naron has entered into the pantheon of infamy reserved for discredited ‘jurists’ such as Pontius Pilate, the unlamented Bassey Ikpeme, Wilson Egbo Egbo amongst others. They are befitting company. The Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision did not pull its punches! The court was quite forthright that there had been what amounts to a miscarriage of justice.
In the words of Justice Victor Omage who delivered the unanimous judgment,” “it is necessary to avoid a perverse judgment. The appellant should have been allowed to support his appeal with all the documents tendered. Documents are the best evidence in election matters, as they assist in determining the case.” This is a stinging rebuke to the refusal of Naron and his compromised panel to admit crucial evidence.
The court was no less biting in rebuking Naron and company for refusing to entertain the evidence of Adrian Forty, a forensic expert from the United Kingdom. On Forty’s forensic evidence, the higher court argued that: “I have diligently looked at the interlocutory appeal and found that dismissing the application for submission of the report was wrong.”
Could any rebuke be stronger? To state the obvious in any society which still retained at least an illusion of maintenance of acceptable civilized standards, Naron would have resigned or better still, fall on his sword.
This however, is not going to happen. Mr. (in) Justice Naron clearly has no self-esteem. It is obvious that the fellow does not care about how the public perceives him or his place in history. A judge who refuses to issue a writ to clear his name of allegations of perverting the course of justice has travelled very well down the road of perfidy.
This makes us to recall the observation of the American pop icon, Andy Warhol. Warhol famously observed that every man (and presumably, woman too) has a right to about seven minutes of fame. Naron has chosen his seven minutes of infamy and will now be confided to the slagheap of history. He has joined the pantheon of infamy – of the unjust and will be forever be classified amongst the perfidious.
A comparison with another infamous historical personage – Pontius Pilate is in other. Legal historians will continue to debate eternally the question – was Pilate a bad man or just an irresponsible fellow? There is lot to indicate that Pilate was extremely reluctant to execute Jesus, blaming the Jewish hierarchy for his death.
Pilate in the deduction of many historians clearly not only agrees that Jesus did not conspire against Rome but finds nothing treacherous in his conduct and actions. There were, to play the devils advocate, heavy societal pressures on Pontius Pilate. He was clearly sick and tired of Judea and look forward to a good retirement augmented with a solid pension back home. It is perhaps because of this that he wrote himself into the book of the eternally damned.
However, overall Pontius Pilate was a better man than Thomas Naron. What were the pressures on Naron? Clearly, his pension was not in jeopardy. If he had acted impartially, kudos rather than opprobrium would have come his way. Naron’s pathetic degeneration is a clear reflection of the destruction of the social ethos of Nigerian society.
Time was when the country produced, sun crowed outstanding jurists such as Justice J.I.C. Taylor, Udo Udoma, Kayode Esho amongst many others. Ironically, Osun State, the theatre of Naron’s ride into infamy produced Nigeria’s first lawyer, the outstanding Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams, an Ijeshaman. Called to the English bar in 1886, Sapara Williams was a supremely gifted advocate, nationalist and civil libertarian. He saw the law as a weapon to be used to further the higher ideals of society and to aid the cause of human advancement.
You cannot compare the unfortunate (in) Justice Naron to the titans mentioned above. History will judge Naron harshly. For a man to throw away his reputation and the ethos of his profession in such a reckless manner, shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with our society. We cannot but pray that we will never again have the misfortune of seeing his type again.