MUST READ!!! Open Letter To JUSUN – By Tony Okoroji

Nigeria is already at war! A war of words is raging across the nation. The Generals have taken their positions and the “armies” are being radicalized on all fronts. 17 Southern governors just met in Asaba and fired warning shots. Interesting! 17 Southern governors? Where have they been all this while? I had begun to think that there was something in the constitution that allowed only the Northern governors to meet?

Many-many of Nigeria’s prayer warriors are also presently in the battlefield, fighting the devil like mad. They are fasting, praying and supplicating, using every skill the Almighty has given to them to beg the good Lord to spare Nigeria the tragedy of Rwanda, Sudan, Syria and other places where things fell apart, the center could no longer hold and anarchy became the rule. But how do you continue to pray with faith when a major pastor, a general in the Lord’s army, has already warned every sensible Nigerian to develop a “Plan B”?

Any student of history will tell you what you don’t want to hear – the war may already have begun. The big guns may not yet be booming, the small arms fire may not yet be rattling uncontrollably, and the massive movement of very frightened people may not yet have begun but we may crazily have driven ourselves to the point of no return.

I have heard many reasons why some people believe that Nigerians will not go to war: We are too large. God loves our nation. We have too many material and personal investments across regions. We have intermarried… The reasons are all rational. War is irrational. Anything that will lead to the careless spilling of the blood of innocent men, women and children cannot be rational. When war begins, your best friend suddenly becomes an enemy simply because he belongs to the wrong tribe or the wrong religion. Killing him then becomes justifiable.

By the way, who told you that God does not love the nations that have driven themselves to fratricidal war? Why should God be worried about you when with your eyes wide open, you walk into those situations that lead to pain and destruction?

The other big mistake we make is to think that there has to be a formal declaration of war for the war to begin. So, all the “leaders” go ahead meeting, posturing and taking photographs pretending to be in control. With so many war lords all over the place? With so many private armies primed to go…? There is dried wood everywhere. Petrol is being poured on it daily. All you need is a little spark and the explosion begins.

How do wars begin? First is the war of words which incubates the hate and mistrust and fires up the young, unemployed and restless. Just turn on the WhatsApp platform on your phone and try to follow the endless conspiracy theories and ‘discoveries’ of the plans of the other tribe and religion to annihilate your tribe and religion. How do you know what is true? How many of your young and restless have the maturity to pause and ask questions?

Then there is the frustration that comes with the feeling that there is no way that you can obtain justice. When the prevailing conclusion is that the levers of justice have been hijacked and that you have become a mere spectator in a game in which you should be a major player, and the referee is a member of the opposing team and whatever you are given you must take without complaint and if you are not given anything at all, so be it.

That was the situation I was caught up in when three years ago, I began a one-man demonstration for several days in front of the Federal High Court in Lagos. I raised alarm because I saw the rule of law crumbling in Nigeria and the courts being shackled.

For someone who verily believes that the difference between a civilized nation and a banana republic is the respect for the rule of law, I could not understand why a judge after hearing a case, would not be allowed to deliver judgment as he deemed fit. Three years ago, mine was a voice in the wilderness. Today, I see JUSUN with the support of the lawyers go on strike for judicial autonomy and the courts locked up for weeks and weeks on end.

For the avoidance of doubt, I whole heartedly support JUSUN and everybody who supports the freedom of the judiciary. The type of democracy we are supposed to practice is a tripod made up of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. With the leadership vacuum that the Executive arm of our government has been wallowing in, the Judiciary went on strike! What started as a mere threat by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has got out of hand. For weeks, all courts in Nigeria have been shut. Police cells everywhere are said to be over-flowing with awaiting trial inmates in a coronavirus environment. Many urgent issues that need quick resolution by the judges have become festering sores. This is after the Corona virus shut down that dislocated the courts for months. Those of us who depend on the courts as our last hope in a nation where the instruments of state are constantly used to intimidate citizens, are bewildered.

What ought to have been resolved in two days has gone on for weeks. Why is it that the powers that be do not seem to be anxious to get the third arm of government standing? Are we playing into their hands? Maybe, they like the situation as it is because without the courts, absolute power prevails everywhere. With anarchy looming and the growing frustration that you cannot obtain justice in Nigeria?

That is why I beg the patriots in JUSUN to give deep thought to the continuation of the strike at this time. Nigeria is already in a precarious situation. In the absence of the courts, it is difficult to restrain people from resorting to the cutlass.

Chief Tony Okoroji is Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON)

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