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Octopoid corruption: The injustice in stale justice

By Sinmiloluwa Omole

The concept of justice is so generic and inexhaustible that there is so much to be said about it and so many issues hang on it. One of such is serving stale justice. When justice loses its value as a result of cobwebbing delay of the proceedings or frustration in enforcement of judgment, wrapped in technicalities and the octopoid corruption, it makes one wonder if what is in operation is a selective justice unit rather than a justice system. Stale justice is what comes to mind when you consider the long queue of litigants who are yet to successfully obtain judgment or enforce it. Some are awaiting justice either in the grave or in the cocoon of unknown fate. It is often said that the wheel of justice grinds slowly, but surely. Perhaps, the aphorism is more appropriately a function of justice got through Karma or God. The question then is, of what use is justice if it grinds so slowly that it becomes worthless or bland to taste? Time is inherently dynamic, wearing off the value of almost everything, justice inclusive.

Sometimes, the sword of justice turns to a rod of injustice when many people passionately seeking justice never get to eat its fruit, either because enforcement has been stalled by “shadow directors’’ (also referred to as “powers that be’’) or appeal has been cobwebbed such that the case remains stagnant for years, so much so that the value of redress litigants seek wears out. This becomes a synonym for injustice. It is why many would rather take the law into their own hands or entrust karma more than our justice system.

On the other hand, the religious ones await the judgment of God, who indeed approves some degree of justice to be done to every mankind treated unjustly. Law is not just about the letters of the book, but also the spirit behind it.

That spirit is the one that apportions, redresses and assigns punishment proportionately to each deserving party.

Justice ought to be hinged on fairness and impartiality. Ideal justice is impartial and is no respecter of wealth, power, status or gender. However, when justice is seen to drag its feet, it creates a potential temptation to resort to self-help, which in turn could disrupt societal peace and eventually lead to chaos and anarchy. It is important that the custodians of justice beware of the impending danger this attracts to the country.

Society must therefore be reassured that justice remains true to its nature- objective, disinterested and timeous.

Citizens must realise justice is for all and not for selected few with power and means who can intimidate justice into timidity or even negotiate it into compromise.

There are many instances (some of which I have painfully experienced) where fetters of mischievous technicalities and corruption have been put on the legs of justice so that it doesn’t go beyond judgment, blocking enforcement with an obstructive nominal appeal that may not be heard in years. Judicial clogging of court with self-seeking suspicious technicalities or cases of puny judicial substance should be checked at filing points.

A stale justice hardly ever warrants excitement. Rather, it puts the justice system itself on trial. Of what purpose is approaching a court of law if justice cannot be got?

Of what purpose is a judgment if it cannot be enforced because of mere dumping of an application for extension of time at an Appellate Court? It amounts to a merry-go-round of injustice. We must not turn a blind eye to the menace of stale justice, which invariably means outright injustice.

Omole, LLB, BL, ACIArb (UK), Abuja

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