JUSTICE Okon Effreti Abang could pass for a judicial activist, considering his non-conformist bench conducts. He should ordinarily be applauded for not being business-as-usual. Despite the many controversies arising from his objectionable and curious rulings which have got the higher courts literally calling him a bench misfit, Abang can’t just seem to stop banging the gavel in manners racing the blood of sectoral big-wigs and unlearned Nigerians. There is always a point where something gets too much. It is called border of recklessness. Whoever plays too actively on this border, particularly when his feet go beyond the border too often, is compared to a man who conducts mock suicide every time, jumping in front of a moving train and ducking the bang.
Someday, such a fellow will stay a little too late on the track and he would become the object of suicide mockery. I see Abang doing too much of this ere egele (consuming act).
Theatre icon, late Pa. Oyin Adejobi was a better arbiter, though untrained in justice dispensation. It is very much unlikely Abang ever heard of him. I recommend the clips of the Kootu Ashipa series, wherever he could get them, because proceedings from his bench, are now a caricature the hilarious Peoples Court on WAP TV. He needs clips from the humour house too.
In his privacy, he should run at least two editions each of the mock courts and if he would be kind to the resources spent in training as a legal mind, his self-appraisal would tell him, he isn’t making just a mockery of his training, including the activism that could be appropriated his career, but much more, the memory he is going to leave behind in the system.
You don’t stop becoming a thief because you haven’t been caught. You may never even get caught, but that won’t stop making you a criminal of conscience and because the Word of God is clear that there is nothing hidden that would not be made open, every ill of man, which isn’t confessed and forgiven will find him out, somehow. Does this sound like a preachment? Yes, because it is always never too late for a return to the sanctuary of sanity.
I’m not really bothered about the Olisa Metuh Show currently running in Abang’s Opera House and whatever both must have got into as classmates. Someone jokingly remarked that Metuh must have taken something very dear away from Abang, for the judge to seek the politician’s dear life. What could be between students? Girls? That had always been in surplus from creation. Maybe, a lady very dear to Okon’s heart. But Okon is from Akwa-Ibom, where the kind of Annie Idiba are always available. Or was it something deeper? I hope, it wasn’t what I don’t want to think it could be, though boys do stupid things in school.
But it isn’t any of Metuh Show, the Buruji Kashamu legal tragedies in his court or the Abia governorship infamy defining Abang. Despite being wildly “celebrated” on social media as a partisan undertaker for a political party and his unmitigated conducts to justify the conductor tag, the judge didn’t not overnight become what he is now seen as his solid reputation for the untoward. No man does. Characters are forged and formed as the inner man develops. That is why Paul prayed only for the inner man in Ephesians. Except the inside is lighted, no amount of outside illumination changes the darkened inside.
This piece isn’t really about Abang Vs Metuh. After all, the lower court judgment is appealable. In fact, the nauseating drama is needless, though both can’t sink deeper than they have done; Metuh down on the floor and about out and Abang with his unrestrained vituperations and defensive conducts like a man on a mission, in the pit of posterity. It is good the tragi-comedy is about to end. Abang should convict Metuh quickly as anticipated and the mess moved to a higher court. Or is there a veiled superiority contest to the entire drama that Metuh is bent on not giving the judge the smug satisfaction of convicting him?. Is it a carry-over of something we don’t know. Maybe, a couple of their classmates could solve the riddle.
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Abang is a mere metaphor for the piece to be all about him. How many of his like are swimming in indignities, despite Hurricane Walter’s furious tide. Within the judiciary, it is a poorly-concealed secret that the Federal High Court, is home to most of the Bench undesirable. Somehow, some still escape to higher grounds because appointment in the judiciary thrives mostly on geo-political vacancies. When it is your turn, it is your turn, whether men of dignity are available or not.
If Abang and his ilk are banging PDP today, it should be a relief, sort of. The gang in opposition today, modelled and nurtured the Abangs in 16 years. Guess the teeth are sharp enough now to bite. The injustice in the hammering is some of such fellows reaping from the monsters’ rage as white-washed APC leaders. If the monsters wanted to rage and destroy their creators, none should be spared.
That is why Abang’s conducts are worrying as well as others like him, not as much in media eye as him. The set-up didn’t just look like revenge mission from Uni. It looks a project with embarrassingly-huge appropriation. That is why NJC’s style of letting judges off the hook because petitions are withdrawn against them by petitioners who may have been put under intense pressure or threats, should be reconsidered. Also telling judges to go and sin no more because petitioners didn’t show up to testify when the ways of Nigerian elite are well known, should not be the right path of self-redemption for a system desirous of a better public perception. But as long as it remains the NJC of Justice Umaru Abdullahi and other deities, it might be “in vain your bangle cast” for Walter Onnoghen and his solo reform run.
I will be doing the memory of Pa. Adejobi and the artistic prowess of WAP crew a huge disservice if I left the justice of comparative appraisal to the learned judge alone. Without doubt, Kootu Ashipa would remain a utopia for what we have today as a judiciary. And WAP comedians, I rule, have better sense of adjudication than the system they mimic.
Where should all these leave the beloved judge? His name. He can start matching the meanings with where he is now. Okon means Night, Abang–Mud Pot and Effreti–Forget Good. Objection, My Lord.