By Ugo Egbujo
It wasn’t a Freudian slip. The man couldn’t be stopped. An 83-year-old senator, seized by valedictory emotions, stood in the hallowed senate chambers and broke omerta. Defying the bulging eyes of bewildered senators, he told a dirty truth to the nation. All attempts by his distinguished colleagues to extinguish the flame of forthrightness were rebuffed by the courageous man.
The man thanked his wife, a former President of the Court of Appeal for allowing him to use her to pervert justice in favour of his colleagues. Gratitude is a virtue. As the cringing distinguished beneficiaries of the rotten judicial porridge pinched their noses like Pharisees and gasped in shock, the man gushed over his caring and generous wife who had helped him cook judicial outcomes.
The octogenarian must be commended for being a loyal wife. Many of the wives that happen these days might have told the man to bring money. Perhaps that was why the man owed her public recognition for outstanding hospitality to her husband’s friends. Some other housewives wouldn’t even get up to make fura for their husbands’ friends if occupied by Telemundo. But in this case, a very senior Judge and wife did the impossible for her husband and his friends.
The man didn’t use parables like other politicians. He was explicit. He thanked his lovely wife for tolerating his encroachment on her integrity and judicial independence to assist his troubled colleagues. Save for those Pharisees in long robes who didn’t let him go on, the man could have emptied his heart. Poor old man. They told him he was heading in a bad direction. They suggested that confessing how they obtained illicit favours from a president of the Court of Appeal would not sit well with their distinguished reputations.
But at 83, a man shouldn’t have other priorities than telling bottling old sins. So why the fuss? If distinguished persons take umbrage against a man who told a stinking truth in public, what would they do to supreme court justices who cover their beautiful sins like Soyinka’s Brother Jero? They said he was washing the dirty linens of distinguished deities before commoners. Perhaps, the truthful elder statesman has learnt to number his days and therefore chosen to make peace with his maker by confessing his sins in public. If his younger distinguished colleagues are still too young and too vain to understand penance, then that is excusable.
But they should have restrained themselves. If only they had allowed the man to name names, the man would have thoroughly shamed the devil.
If all those who have settled cases in court by giving judges chuwa chuwa could come out boldly and confess, the societal rot might begin to abate. Indeed, Senator Bulkachuwa didn’t say bribes or chuwa chuwa— as it is called in Hausa, was involved. So let rumourmongers disabuse their minds and discard the wayward idea that chuwu chuwa must have been employed side-by-side with man-know-man to secure those favours. If that were the case the good judge would have deserved the copious gratitude.
However, if the favours referred to include the swinging difficult election cases, then it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for those cases to be cooked successfully without some chuwa chuwa ingredient. The story in the street is that to arrange nice judgements in such cases bulk chuwa chuwa might be necessary. You can call it bulkachuwachuwa.
Yet, if Senator Bulkachuwa had been allowed to finish his confession, he might have resolved many mysteries. In 2018, a certain man contested the APC senate primaries in Bauchi and won. INEC monitored and was happy with the process and outcome. But overnight magic happened. The APC submitted the name of the loser. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, sweated through the three tiers of courts in vain. The courts couldn’t see and didn’t listen. Some said the judicial abracadabra was more baffling than the perfidy supervised by Adams Oshiomhole. Senator Bulkachuwa wasn’t allowed to reach that point, so we might never know how the magic in Bauchi was cooked.
But many lawyers have lamented the growing appetite of our judges for chuwa chuwa. It stunts legal scholarship and defeats the rule of law. The gluttony cuts across all the courts. The bulkachuwachwuwalization menace in the judiciary has no bounds. From perpetual injunctions to black market injunctions from remote courts and bizarre decisions in election disputes, the tools are many. A few months, ago a senior Justice publicly eulogized a governor who had been fingered by the EFCC as fantastically corrupt.
Such promiscuity. The most revered Justice threw professionalism into the gutter and urged another governor to emulate the shady governor who kept unholy relationships with the judiciary at all levels. Little wonder a partner of one of the most revered lawyers in the country, while pitching their legal services to a client, bragged about their tested ability to corner judges and feed them with chuwa chuwa.
Unfortunately, the judiciary is supposed to be self-regulating. With some senior members of the bar feeding some senior members of the bench with hot creamy porridge of Esau, the judiciary will fall apart. Atrocities happen and the NJC feigns aloofness. In 2016, the DSS raided the homes of some judges. The revelations were damning, but since the process was contaminated, nothing came out of it. That roguish attempt and the backlash it received has perhaps emboldened the hyenas in the judiciary. Utter impunity reigns. Predictable corruption and tyranny now rule. And nobody besides a man like Senator Bulkachuwa is keen to arrest the rot.
Ugo Egbuji is a Legal Practitioner.