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By: Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi, PhD
 Published April 20th, 2010

Despite the official presence of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria which allows for the democratic functioning of the nation, the current institutional behaviors over the public personality of one man, James Ibori lead to many issues.

For reasons best known to Nigeria, at least since a decade and a year ago the nation mandated the practice of a constitution like that of Euro-America. Inherent in this type of democratic arrangement is common sense and the guaranteed respect for the rule of law. No one is exempted, not even the President.

And there exist distinct separation of the three branches of government, the legislature as in the National Assembly and the Executive like the law enforcement body as in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Judiciary like the federal high court. But notably the ruling of courts must be abiding to all citizens and institutions with respectable allowance for appeal to the supreme court.

In this writing, no attempt is being put out to question the investigatory and legal case now faced by the former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

In all authentic democratic systems any one is answerable to charges at any time as long as their civil liberties are fully protected. As for any accused, no matter how he or she is horribly painted—through media frenzy, and public uproar, at no time should the person become the subject of what could be viewed as propaganda, confusion, obsession and timidity on the part of a governmental entity.

A look at the month of April of this year as it relates James Ibori, makes a right minded person wonder how deep is the mis-education within official behaviors?

There seem to be the public assertions of different types but how true are they?, how does a federal office of law enforcement invite a suspect or a person of interest through a letter, and even before the expiration of date of invitation the individual is declared wanted. Either this sign of an act of tyrannical behavior, gross institutional stupidity or is simply an honest mistake or a mark of institutional overreaction.

Even if the suspect is subsequently charged of a wrongdoing the first route to fairness, as called for in a democracy is to make certain that the entire matter do not at any time become prejudiced or contaminated. This is important in order to make the enforceability of the case free from elements of emotional distress and physical ache, on the part of the accused citizen.

This type of perceived unprofessional behaviors by a public agency leaves doubt in the psyche of an independent judiciary and able jurist.

As to the current judicial role in the Ibori matter, there is the assertion that the recently established federal high court in Asaba, is believed to be on a suspicious land, in that persons and entities highly attached to Ibori donated the land. A perception that could be a consequence of pure subjectivity.

With this type image left in the mind of the public by the media mainly, no matter how a presiding judge rules, especially when it is seen as non-negative towards the defendant, the integrity and autonomy of the court comes to question. This type of suspicion is more likely in a society like Nigeria where sentiments sometime muddle up or mix with African style of institutional functioning.

In the face of this Africentric reality of emotional laced governance and public operations, it would have been safer for the judiciary to have publicly bid for a place, and openly negotiate the buying of a land to set up a court.

Thereby reducing possible pointing hands from the media, potential mixed perceptions from opponents and above all avoiding more collective emotional inflict and defamatory reports on the already engulfed citizen, Chief James Ibori—at least from the point of the whole matter, beginning in 2007.

In a psycho-legal way, let every one and establishments involved in this matter take some breathe as in every democracy humans, agencies and institutions do succumb to various levels of fatigue and disillusionment, which sometimes result in dreary, disjointed or deadbeat out comes for all but always roll back the wheel of fairness in a democratic community—an aspiration we try to perfect on every day that passes.

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph. D, DABPS, FACFE, is a practicing forensic/clinical psychologist and the Interim Dean of Behavioral Science Department at the Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida.

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