#BlogFest #50DaysCountDownTo2015 – DAY 19, Written by @CollinsOgo, he blogs at www.legalwatchmen.blogspot.com
“Man hates (despises) the truth because it exposes him for what he is and it troubles what still remains of his conscience.”-Paul Washer.Abiding by elements in the perceptual manifold, our country is in a bad-news default mode. In giving systematic judgments to daily events, each breaking of the sun brings us with yet another ‘new’ problem and issue to deal with, which sadly, we can’t seem to confront, thus, compounding our woes. The grave situation of the Nigerian polity and the graver and darker consequential character awaiting its socio-political shorelines forecast by many regarding its guaranteed existence as an indivisible entity continue to hedge closer towards fruition. Political transactions, as of late have all contributed in no small account to the veritable stance that the country is more than fast sloping down the hill of crisis and meltdown. Yet, time after time, we have found it hard to boldly face and tackle our problems, not because we couldn’t do such or lacked the requisite will to do it, but because we are always afraid of rising up and facing our problems with the intent to at least frontally confront or fight them. Needless to say, corruption has found its strongest potency to deeply thrive in the Nigerian atmosphere. It is no longer news that politics and the rule of law are dead in Nigeria. In their place we now have blatant money laundering, large-scale looting, outright stealing and outrageous illegality. The befitting requisite appendage of the country would therefore be ‘The World Capital of Lawlessness’. Due process is now an alien and scare commodity in the country. At every yearly rating by Transparency International (TI), Nigeria finds herself ‘proudly’ jostling top positions with other corrupt countries in the world. Successive Governments of the day would boast of how far good and well they’ve been able to fight corruption, but the evident truth remains that their efforts can be compared to trying to stay clean in a muddy pool while engaged in fierce fighting with your staunch enemy. Enough being said about the grave situation of the Nigerian polity. But it certainly needs no saying, verification or validity that Nigeria is corrupt, and most Nigerians are corrupt. This clearly cannot amount to defamation.The tort of defamation arises where an individual’s reputation or image is being tarnished by another. That is to say, where one person through the instrumentality of words uttered or words written reduces or ridicules the worth of another before right-thinking members of society, such person has committed the tortious act known as defamation, and consequently has incurred some tortious liability on himself. The redress by law given to a defamed individual is awarding monetary damages to such defamed individual from the pockets of the defaulting party, in so much as such damages seek to restore the defamed party to his former high-ranking position and standing in society. However, surrounding factors come into play when accessing the claim that an individual has been defamed by another. That said, who then can be defamed? Of course, every member of the society can be defamed. For everybody has a right to protect his good name, whenever he feels his name is being dragged into the mud.Thus, applying an objective and simple understanding of the tortious act of defamation through a psychological investigation to the overt manifestations of our leaders or as can be inferred from their implicit thought-processes, can it be said without a cloud of controversy that any person who therefore pronounces that our leaders are corrupt is defaming them? First of, who is afraid of being defamed? From earlier established findings, only the one who has an upright and unblemished reputation can be afraid of the reward of defamation hanging over his head. Where a leader has resorted to, after careful consideration, align himself with lawlessness and perversity, what reputation is there to protect when somebody else decides to point it out? Better put, what ‘good’ image and name is there to protect, starting from the Presidency, down to most of our Governors, Local Government Chairmen and Councilors? It is quite common knowledge a present-day Nigerian politician is incompatible with a good name and reputation. After leaving office, if a former public officer fails to be rich in falsely-acquired real estates and looted wealth, I am sorry to say, that such official was out rightly stupid! To give an outstanding example, former Delta state Governor James Ibori, is currently serving jail term in the UK for money laundering committed while in office as Governor. Could the prosecuting lawyer in the Ibori case be said to have defamed Ibori when he called Ibori a common thief?The Abacha family were reported to have shamelessly declared that should the Nigerian government recover all their (Abachas’ family) stolen loot, they would never be as poor as Dangote! In the same unsavory manner, Rt.Gen. T.Y Danjuma, a former military Chief of Staff ingloriously uttered, probably in a state of stupor, that he was so rich and was bereft of what to do with money! Perhaps, these people were prompted to make those declarations by that indifferent silence particular of the Nigerian arena. The disinterestedness of many Nigerians towards political happenstances has made political office in the country a ‘loot-as-you-like’ affair. Not surprisingly though, Nigerians are still living in silence as to the whereabouts of the fuel subsidy loot, the CBN’s missing #20 billion (or is it #10 billion, as they later admitted), the Aviation Ministry’s #225 million used for procuring bullet proof cars, the unaccounted-for amount realized from the Immigration Exam Scam, and many other similar scenarios of monumental sums missing from government coffers…meanwhile, millions of the half-interred Nigerian populace don’t even have the slightest intimation of where their next meal might come from. Could anybody who portrays this truth be then said to have defamed the ‘vested interests’ concerned?Truthfully, however, there is no exclusivity to the fact that the Nigerian society is bipolarized into the corrupt few and docile majority. That of course, is coming on the heels of the glaringly unsavory fact that the country has sadly been Balkanized along the lines of religious zealotry and bigotry. On many occasions than necessary, the high and mighty in society had exhibited acts which brazenly negate the rule of law, but all that could ever be gotten from Nigerians was silence. Would those who choose not to remain silent by pointing out such ‘vested interests’ then be said to have defamed such ‘vested interests’? Judge for yourself. The un-peculiarity and incoherence that characterizes the monumental corruption resident within public service in the country defies any attempt at adequate description or precise classification. But, this attempt at classifying the decay in Nigerian political office is achieved at the price of the over-simplified word: ‘corruption’. And in a vaguer perception, corruption in the country has gradually and consistently become purposive without purpose. The wide and unlimited realm of corruption in the country has now made it even difficult to mentally conceptualize the antimony called corruption.The crux of this piece would chiefly then appear thus: since Providence had been at least gracious to hand down the natural law that, ‘reactions must follow actions’, it is only probable and conceivable that when some ‘high and mighty’ in the society choose to poison our spirits by engaging in irregular, illegal and unlawful acts, those of us who have chosen not to remain silent- not withholding our imperfections-will have no option than to spew up defamatory words (if they so view it). For one should not be afraid to spit out ‘poisoned’ words (and in the process, offend others), how much more when shit is forced into our mouths? He who has no skeleton in his cupboard would not be apprehensive at the mere mention of skeletons, and as such, should not be afraid of being defamed.
Arikor Collins Ogonnaya,@CollinsOgo. www.legalwatcmen.blogspot.com