THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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THOSE WHO COME TO EQUITY
Those who come to equity, a maxim of law posits, must come with clean hands. The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, cannot be vituperative on crimes perpetrated by Muslims and be silent on crimes committed by members of its rank and file. It cannot make a show of concern for the security of lives of Christians only when they are felled or endangered by Muslim culprits. They should equally be as vituperative when Christians kill other Christians or when Christians collaborate with Muslims to kill both Muslims and Christians. As a matter of fact they should be concerned for the lives of Nigerians rather than only for a sectarian section of it. We are all threatened by the same enemies. It betrays hypocrisy of a terribly ungodly kind that an umbrella religious body, like CAN should be so selectively –even if divisively- reactive only when certain criminal conduct by members of other religious bodies afford it an opportunity to preach division. And it was this starkly un Christian –nay, un-Christlike- attitude that informed a Face Book comment I made recently, in reaction to a certain Nathaniel Samuel arrested recently as he attempted to detonate an explosive device at a Living Faith Church, in Sabon Tasha, Chukun L.G. Kaduna. And this was what I said, to CAN:
“You vigorously defended a former President of CAN, Oritsejafor, in whose jet a whooping 15million dollars belonging to Jonathan’s Government was intercepted in South Africa on a secret arms-purchase mission; you did not see anything wrong in Church and State conniving in a secret mission to purchase arms; in fact you downplayed the fact that in Oritsejafor’s jet were also two suspicious characters, an Israeli citizen and another Nigerian described as a staunch Christian of Southern Kaduna extraction –all of whose identities are still under wrap. You saw nothing wrong in the Jonathan Government extravagantly sharing to its PDP members a whooping 2.1 billion dollars appropriated for the purchase of arms intended, then in the nick of time, to fight a budding insurgency; in fact it does not appear that you care that owing to that corrupt and profligate misapplication of that arms money, an insurgency that should long have been nipped in the bud when it was benignly curable has now been allowed to fester into incurable malignancy; you have trivialized and politicized Buhari’s exposé of the names of beneficiaries of the sharing bazaar from that arms money directed by Jonathan -a Christian- under the custodianship of his National Security Adviser, Dasuki (a Muslim).
“As a matter of fact, it is wholly to the credit of your campaigns, your protests and your propaganda that a treasonably-acting Dasuki had to be released on bail and his Principal, Jonathan, who directed the sharing is daily deodorized with anointing oil and fumigated with incense fit only for the saints; you have completely ignored the revelation of a Christian member of CAN who had openly claimed that of the 2.1 billion dollars shared to friends and allies of the Jonathan government, 7billion naira was given to CAN (and who knows, possibly a like sum too to some Islamic umbrella body); you have totally ignored the fact that several times arms and munitions suppliers to Book Haram have been arrested who turned out to be Christians and that in fact there have been several Church bombings or attempts in the past traced to Christians in various parts of the country including in the Christian dominated South.
“And now rather than calmly interrogate the whys and wherefores a self-confessed Christian, Nathaniel Samuel, caught right in the act, would want to bomb a Church that he also attends, you are desperately regaling in self-denial -insisting, without any proof, that if he is truly a Christian like he claims, then he is not a bomber or that if he is truly a bomber that he obviously is, then he must be a Muslim. And you tell me that with this kind of malevolently prejudicial narrative vehemently intended to deodorize your own with a view to demonizing mine, we stand a chance of winning the war on this insurgency, or on criminality in general? You think that a narrative of mutual self-denial (whereby a Church bomber has to be a Muslim and by implication therefore, a mosque bomber a Christian) is what we need at this point to solve the problems of insecurity in this country? I don’t think so! Rather what we need is to remind ourselves of the great words of that great ‘man’ that we both revere, (namely Jesus) who said: “Speak ye the truth, it (alone) shall set you free”!
STILL ON THAT DEATH SENTENCE
I have no problem with the Mosaic rule of ‘life for life’, ‘an eye for an eye’, or a ‘tooth for a tooth’. In fact I do not believe –as many erroneously do- that ‘an eye for an eye will make the world go blind’. On the contrary, I believe that ‘an eye for an eye’ is the surest path to ensuring that everyone’s eyes are sacred and inviolable. Because before the world goes one quarter blind (on account of vengeful justice), the rest of humanity would’ve taken heed that a good eye-piece is theirs to keep only if they are ready to concede the right of others to keep their good eye pieces too. If any person premeditatedly or –as lawyers would say- with malice aforethought, takes the life of another, it meets the transcendental end of natural justice that such a person’s life be taken also. Now, this may not necessarily serve as deterrence to others –as many opponents of capital punishment have argued. As a matter of fact, ‘an eye for an eye’ must not necessarily serve the end of deterring others. But it should be sufficient that taking the life of one who deliberately takes the life of another, simply appeases the grieving army of the bereaved that has avoidably lost a loved one. And –even if with a fetish to booth- all that taking the life of one who deliberately takes the life of another does is to rest the otherwise restless soul of the untimely diseased, ‘an eye for an eye’ would’ve been worth the while.
It should be the veritable end of justice that “whatever ye mete to others” as the Christian Bible would say “it should also be meted to you”. This scriptural justice must’ve inspired Shakespeare’s tragic-comic play ‘Measure For Measure’ -in which the Elizabethan playwright advocates one of the purposive ends of law, which is vengeance and inexorable justice. It is law’s duty always to be inexorably merciless to the malevolent, reckless offender and merciful only to the inadvertent or the non malicious offender of necessity. America cannot hold the candle to the rest of the world about how to deal with those who homicidally take the lives of others. Nor should it matter if any justice system mercilessly puts to the scaffold -or to the guillotine, to the gas chamber or maybe even to the firing squad- those who have scant regard for the lives of others.
A member of the House of Representatives, El-Doguwa had brought his four spouses to the Green Chamber, and in a show of conjugal oomph had informed his colleagues that he had 27 children and still counting. Now whether or not this show of conjugal stamina or fecundity was a veiled retort to his Emir of Kano who had recently made deprecating comments about polygamy, is not the subject of this piece. Appreciating the borderless confines of legislative license is at the core of my concern. Rather than be amused, many Nigerians were disgusted. And I wondered, how do you rid parliament sometimes of good-humored jokes, and jokers? Said Christopher Sylvester in his Pimlico literary anthology on the British ‘Parliament’, the legislature is “occasionally varied with a little howling, barking, crowing, or other ebullitions of senatorial pleasantry”.
If it is about having four wives, that is a non issue, because we know some Muslims to be polygamists. There is nothing wrong with that -morally and legally. If it is about having 27 children, it is also a non issue; because it comes to about six children per wife. Every wife has a right to determine how many children she wants. Provided the husband is ok with it and can support them. Many monogamous families (Muslim and Christian) have more than six children. If there’s nothing morally or legally wrong in Doguwa (who can afford it) having four wives, why should there be something wrong with each of his wives having 7 children (which even women of monogamous marriages are entitled to)?
And if it is about bringing his personal conjugal matter to Parliament, that too is a non issue. Parliament is for EVERY issue, except that which a majority of its members refuses to listen to. Doguwa had a fair share of his parliamentary time to speak about ‘important issues’, but he decided to devote that to discussing his private marital issue, -and his colleagues did not stop him. As a matter of fact, they felt entertained -as indeed many ‘clowns’ had entertained Parliament before with even more ludicrous inanities. Let his constituents worry about how he uses the parliamentary time their votes afforded him! For God’s sake this is a democracy! You can’t love the system and hate its characteristics! Said Spencer Leigh Hughes, a British Journalist and politician, “The House (British Parliament) warmly welcomes any excuse for a roar of good-humored laughter in which all can join, which does good to all and hurts the feelings of no one”