Sunday 28 July 2019

The Common Sense in Technicality

I was thinking this morning..... about the common sense in technicalities. In the last couple of weeks, the video clip of the senate confirmation hearing of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad where he struggled to explain the concept of 'legal technicality' had gone viral. The Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe had asked Tanko if he thought it made legal and moral sense to pervert the merit of cases before the Supreme Court on the basis of 'mere technicality.' Tanko had given a shocking response, saying 'Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field. Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know. Ask me to drive [sic] an aeroplane, I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven [sic] by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law.' Wow!

When people shouted, incompetence, mediocrity, witlessness, I struggled to understand where they are coming from. To help my case, I went back to read the judgement that Abaribe cited in his question to the CJN. The 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, where the Supreme Court had said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’ is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.' Still I did not understand the issue at stake enough to have an informed opinion. I was worried, how can I, the self-appointed undercover thought-police not understand a simple legal discourse? When I tried to understand why, it occurred to me that it requires technicality and my technicality is in Health and Safety.

In my struggle, I realised I was sweating. Could I be suffering from a fever? I placed the back of my right hand on my forehead to check my temperature. It was normal. So why am I sweating? I discovered, there was no electricity but I have been too engrossed in my reflection to notice the air conditioner (AC) go off. 'When are we going to come out of this 'Oh NEPA' and 'Up NEPA' curse?' I wondered. I thought the current Minister of Power had promised us constant electricity within 6 months? 'Surely it is not rocket science,' he was quoted to have said. Moreso, the Vice President only recently said N900 billion has been spent by this government on power generation. Then why are we not enjoying 24 hours electricity? As I considered it deeply, I concluded that in Nigeria, electricity generation and distribution is surely rocket science. I also agreed with the words of the CJN that it is something that requires technicality and if the Minister of Power has any technicality, his technicality will only be limited to law, because he is a lawyer.

It has become clear that no past leader of Nigeria should be blamed for the failed government they ran. Running a country like Nigeria requires technicality. Abacha, Babangida and Obasanjo had their career in the Military, so their technicality were in combat and military tactics. Goodluck Jonathan was a University teacher, so his technicality was limited to Zoology and Fisheries biology. They have no technicality in government or political science and should therefore be absolved of any wrongdoing. Ha Naija!

But wait a minute. I worry for Nigeria. I worry because should we continue to hide our failures and ignorance under technicalities, we will never move forward. What we need is common sense to seek the common good. If we all do, legal, scientific, political or even economic technicality will pale to insignificance. James 1:5 says 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.' My prayer as I head to church this morning will be 'Oh God, grant me common sense that will trump technicalities.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

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