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The Supreme Court, critics and the challenge of civilisation (1)

NEVER before in our historical memory has the Supreme Court been subjected to the cur­rent verbal savagery they are under. And it is all in the course of its verdicts, on the matter of Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States’ gover­norship contests, as they were brought before their Lordships. While one could understand and even sympathise with the positions of the politicians who lost their arguments before the Justices, one is at a loss of what to make of the other verbal tantrums against the Supreme Court Justices. And leading this assault is no less a person than a professor of law, Mr. Itse Sagay.
On the face of it, Mr. Sagay is a highly quali­fied party to offer comments. But beneath the skein of his feinted objectivity are signs and wonders. And these signs and wonders are so troubling, one is bothered not just for the fate of Nigeria, but the direction, if any, our repre­sentative black civilisation is headed. That is if we allowed things to be driven by the Sagays of this world.
In one of Sagay’s many fusillades, The Punch, 5-02-16, reports as follows: “Drawing an analogy between the Supreme Court’s deci­sions and the attitude of an ancient king, called Draco in punishing all offences with death, Sagay said on Thursday that the apex court’s streak of judgments was strange.”
He said: “It is not something I can just pounce on. But all the judgments have been the same. It’s very interesting. There used to be an ancient monarch, who punished every crime by death. He was called Draco. That is why when somebody does anything extreme, he is called Draconian.
“If anybody steals one kobo, you kill him, if he kills someone you kill him, at the end, there is no distinction between offences.
“There should be distinctions. How can all the governorship cases go the same way? How is that possible? That is the question we are all awaiting when they will give the reasons for their judgments.
“I don’t know how to put it, but it’s very strange. We will wait for them to give their rea­sons and see how that magic occurred that every governorship election was valid and in line with the Electoral Act. It is very unprecedented. We will see when they give their full judgments, that is it for now.”
Now, despite the innocence of appearances and the postures of objectivity (besides his trade of being a professor of law, Mr. Sagay also trades or traded as a human rights trooper), the following are facts on the ground. Mr. Sagay, a retired professor of law, is a hire of government. As records readily show, he is heading an om­nibus hit-agency, an organ of the present gov­ernment. To quote him: There are some of the things we do that I cannot actually speak (on) publicly…” The Punch 07-02-16. Already by his own refusal to be open and transparent, Mr. Sagay is hinting that this present government is dark and enclosed, is anti-democratic and open to abuse and co-option. If one bothered to restate facts, the follow­ing are germane. The judiciary and, especially the Supreme Court, are/is an institutional and constitutional arm of governance, but are not a part of government. The government which has the presidency as an arm, is also like the Supreme Court/judiciary an arm of governance. Thus, the government headed by an ex-general who serves as Sagay’s principal, is not an arm of the judiciary. They, three in all – including the legislature – are all fractional ‘whole sub-bodies’ within the composite of governance, not government.
For reasons that are not clear, Mr. Sagay, who should know, seems to conflate the parts and mix up the whole; taking governance to mean government. Of course, like most politi­cians or their hires, he is posturing, he is acting out the good of the nation. Or, perhaps, it is an old lawyerly sleight of hand, to be a partisan and be posturing as if you speak for the whole, as if ‘your truths’ are not contentious, are the univer­sal order.
Immediately it is understood that Sagay and his principals are partisans in the matter in issue, that is representing government, an arm, not the totality of governance, then the following is in­dicated. Sagay’s condemnation and recourse to the long tale of Draco may not only be pointless as it concerns the Supreme Court. It may actu­ally apply to him and the government he rep­resents far more than, if at all, it applies to the Supreme Court judges.
The real meat in the moral of Draco, one of the kingly law givers of ancient Athens, is not just as Sagay supposes. It is not in the giving one judgement for all offences, trivial, treason­able and or otherwise. The real and overrid­ing point of the Athenian mind in condemning Draco, is in his lack of discernment, not just in the little matter of giving identical judgements. That is, Draco was condemned for lack of dis­cernment and wisdom leading to, and not on the uniformity of judgements. This distinction of process and outcome is important. This is be­cause if differing logical processes lead to one and the same outcome, the Greeks are at home with and approve of it.
Thus whoever lacks judgement and discern­ment, that is, due or logical process, is draco­nian, whatever his outcomes or judgements. It is true that the evolution of the word Draco as a metonym, emphasises one aspect, ruthless outcome. But that should not rob us of the full appreciation of the morals of Greek civilisation and its many and superlative history and myths. The whole and distinctive nature of Greek ge­nius, is not in outcome or judgements, but in the rationality of processes – in logic. It was this that led them to the invention of mathematics as a formal science. And it is in this Greek spirit, that any parties interested in mathematics and computer science, will know of Boolean logic. Boolean logic, a precursor of computing logic, reduces every value, to just two denotations. So, what is important is not the ‘conformity’ of computing denotations, but the logic, the processes that led to it. We say this because as Professor Joseph Campbell taught, Greek his­tory and myths are a rich source of intellectual protein. We should never eat or consume them as starch, certainly not with gbegiri soup.
Now, if as is known the judiciary is her own independent arm of governance, and govern­ment is another independent arm of governance, just as well as the legislature, it can thus be stated that Sagay showed uncommon lack of the spirit and practice of discernment, by refusing to recall he is a partisan to the matter in issue. That is, he, therefore, cannot moralise, even if correctly, though in this case he is far from be­ing. By association or direct involvement, he is part of this administration or, at least, on hire for them. Greek rationality will thus demand that he never moralises, that he states his case as a partisan with interest in the outcome, who, if left alone, may want to be un-Greek, that is, breach the process and logic.
And these acts of Mr. Sagay are particular­ly troubling. This is since he knows or should know that the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court Justices, by tradition are not expected to canvass their opinions in the open and or rebut accusations against them in the open. That is, Mr. Sagay is showing draconian lack of discern­ment and some cheap courage as he takes on a soft target. He is verbally assaulting parties, who, by the institutional decorum, are held back from answering.
It is this point of the institutionally demand­ed social restraint of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court Justices, which brings in the questions, of not just the present government, its agents, hires and their draconian irrationalities, but the dangers to our civilisation. Perhaps, not clear to many is that a state is a specific archi­tectural and organic eco-systemic. That is, while the executive and the legislatures can talk and even be riotous with words and verbiage, much of which could be nonsense, the judiciary must in all its outing, be and remain solemn, magiste­rial.
And no discerning and non-draconian minds in the other arms of the state must be seen to be abusing it, more so, one who is a professor. What the professor needs to do if he feels so irri­tated, is to retire to his library and pen a treatise. He should not ridicule in the open an institution that can’t talk back because of the burdens on them of the march of our human civilisation.
Yet, as the professor moralises, the very gov­ernment, one arm of the governance machine, is itself in need of reforms and cleaning up. Now, the president has signed and sealed a budget, only to return to it, that it leaks. What absurdity? And the naira under the current (mis)-gover­nance is lost traction, is racing towards 1000 to the dollar hit. These are urgent matters the ex­ecutive should concern themselves with. They must not wander into the precincts of the judi­ciary, to raise dust or cause mayhem when their own turf is as chaotic as hell.
Their failure to clean up, to give Nigerians the dividends of democracy should not mislead the executive and its hires to the draconian insin­uation that each and every one of the Supreme Court justices, seven of them, were, one and all compromised. Even common sense wouldn’t have suggested that draconian insinuation; it’s untenable, absurd and unsustainable in logic.