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
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
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
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.