‘Sting operations’ – Is the day of resurrection here?



In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent the Merciful

“He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?” (A day) when the sight is dazed and the moon is buried in darkness, and the sun and moon are joined together; that Day will Man say; “Where is the refuge?” (Quran 75)

Since last Friday brethren, the public sphere here in Nigeria has been held in the jugular by arguments – some specious and ribald, others cerebral and highly ingenuous. Some among my compatriots have posited that while the war against corruption is highly desirable, the method of operation deployed by the DSS in their attempt to arrest some eminent members of the bench was to say the least highly unfitting of a developing democracy like ours.

Others have even argued that no matter the infractions their Lordships may have committed they ought not to have been treated like ordinary mortals like you and me. After all, whenever you talk of the bearers of the silk, you are gesturing to a hallowed palace, built of marble and populated by men and women whose first qualification for the appellation “Me Lord” is their incorruptibility.

But others have countered. The “Sting” operation carried out by the DSS, they posited, is not unknown either to the law or to contemporary history.

“Sting” operations, they further argued, have been used in Ghana and America. It is a sine qua non whenever the stakes are high.

Thus it came to pass that we are confronted, once again, with the enigma that the Nigerian condition always throw up for own contemplation. Here what is foul, in the Shakespearean sense, is fair; what is fair, to some, is foul.

But brethren, I thought the incident of last weekend is far more instructive for the discerning minds such that any attempt to view it as politics through other means would amount to trivialization of an extremely painful national tragedy. As I mentioned ab initio, the incident is reminiscent of the day of resurrection. A day when robes of honour shall be taken away from all men and women; when the secret oddities of the crème de la crème of the society shall be thrown open for all to see; when the mighty shall become lowly and burdened by the weight of fleeting moments of incontinence and slippery terrain of judgment day. The day of resurrection is that when the child shall grow hairs while in cradle while the old would yearn for a return to the life of innocence at the back of their mothers.

Dear sister, the incident of last weekend reminds me that nothing in this world, in our world, can escape retribution and reward; that your Lord and mine is the patient Observer and Liquidator. He gives you and me respite on a daily basis perhaps we shall take a new turn from this iniquitous path. It is those whose “luggage” contains no ‘contrabands’ and forbidden items who shall pass the bridge of judgment in peace and tranquility.

Brethren, when the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Muhammad, described the event as regrettable, I thought he spoke the minds of most Nigerians. Now depending on which side of the spectrum you are, I consider the event as regrettable for many reasons including the fact that it opened a big gap in our moral constituents as a nation. The event was instructive of the fact that as a nation, our souls are in the hands of some subjects whose moral currency cannot “buy” a single item in the market of probity and honesty.

An anecdote from Islamic history is germane. About 1364 years ago, a young man was given birth to in Kufa (Iraq). He was named Nuʿmān ibn Thābit ibn Zuṭā ibn Marzubān. He later achieved renown as Imam Abū Ḥanīfah and as the leader of the first school of Islamic law and jurisprudence. In 763, al-Mansur, the Abbasid monarch offered Abu Hanifah the post of Chief Judge of the State, but he declined the offer. Abu Hanifah declined the offer to be the judge based on his knowledge of the risks involved in the position of a judge for a Muslim here on earth and in the hereafter; he was aware of the fact that to be a judge under the hegemony of leaders who treasure the world is dangerous. He knew that to practice law in an era in which brigands have seized power is tantamount to putting one’s head on the guillotine.

Thus Abu Hanifah told the king that he preferred to remain independent. When the king insisted he would appoint him the Chief Judge, Abu Hanifa excused himself by saying that he did not regard himself fit for the post. Al-Mansur, who had his own ideas and reasons for offering the post, lost his temper and accused Abu Hanifa of lying. Then Abu Hanifa said: “How does it appear seemly to you to appoint a liar as a judge over people’s trust”. Abu Hanifah used the negative attribute of lying for a purpose. He meant to say that to be a judge is to be a symbol of truth and honesty; to be a judge is to be a mirror of transparency; to be a judge is to be incorruptible.
Incensed by this reply, the ruler had Abu Hanifa arrested, locked in prison and tortured. He was never fed nor cared for. Inside the prison, the indomitable jurist continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him.

In 767, Abu Hanifa died a prisoner. But he never died. First, over 50,000 mourners gathered for his burial and the funeral prayers had to be done five times to accommodate the mourners’ zeal to pray over him. Though his body was interred, though he paid the ultimate price in defense of his honour and in affirmation of the authority of the Almighty, Abu Hanifah lives on as a symbol of judicial eminence.

Thus the incident of the last weekend and the subsequent stories of sleaze, scam and scum we have read about their Lordships are extremely odious ones. They are so odious that, for some us, it is our prayers that they should turn out to be false at the end of the day.

This is because, across civilizations and cultures, the judiciary is renowned as the bastion of justice and rectitude. Thus whenever men and women in the bar and in the bench are accused of corruption, it feels as the pillars which hold the world together has been broken; it feels as if honey has become poison.

In other words, whenever the politician, who is not a Statesman, is hurled off power, whenever they fall like empty hulls from kernel, whenever they are consigned to the rubbish-can of history and forever condemned to grope in the labyrinth of eternal irreverence, people often say: serves them right. But the same is usually not expected and said of men and women in the judiciary. This is based on three reasons. (8122465111 for texts messages only)

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