By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
A fortnight ago, a hungry man jumped into a banquet hall through the window. A sumptuous party was going on there. The security men within and outside the banquet hall made a rapid response and arrested the hungry wretched man. During interrogation, the chief security officer of the hotel asked him, “Mr. Man, why did you jump into this banquet hall without following due process? Answer the question direct!” The hungry man laughed hungrily and replied, “Mr. Security, hunger does not follow due process until the hunger is quenched. Look at the assorted food and drink everywhere here and I was dying in silence outside. Please allow me to eat and drink to my satisfaction. After, I shall follow due process to go out.” One of the security men angrily gave him a hot slap. The hungry man broke down in tears. Tearfully he asked the security man, “Why did you slap me without following due process? You should feed a hungry man before slapping him, so that he can have the strength to endure.” In a twinkle of an eye, the slapped hungry man slumped and was foaming at the mouth. The security men became frightened. They all knelt down around him and were doing everything possible to resuscitate him. One of them rushed and collected a plate of appetizing food with spicy aroma. Immediately the food was brought, the slumped unconscious hungry man started salivating. He regained consciousness instantly. He opened his eyes and smiled. He sat up and descended on the food with all alacrity. They served him also a bottle of cold malt mixed with liquid milk. After eating and drinking, he shouted, “Thank you all. This is the due process of resuscitating a slumped hungry man. Now let me follow due process by going out through the door.” The security men then followed due process in escorting him out.
Due process is doing the right thing at the proper time and in the lawful way. The Almighty God followed due process in creating the world and everything in it. It took him six days to complete the works of creation. On the first day, he separated light from darkness. The light he called day while the darkness became night. On the second day he made the waters and the sky. On the third day he separated the waters from the land. He also created all species of plants to grow on the land. On the fourth day, God made the Sun and the moon. Then on the fifth day, he created different animals to inhabit the waters, land and sky. Then on the sixth day God said, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness” Male and female he created them (Gen. 1:26, 27). Then God commanded them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28). After completing the works of creation, God rested on the seventh day and made it holy (Gen. 2:1-3). What a marvelous due process! It would have been disastrous if God created man first before other things. Please let us give a loud applause to God. God is the Lord of Due Process.
Everything we do in this universe must follow due process, otherwise it becomes an absurdity. If you want to marry, you ought to follow the due process in finding your partner. There must be free consent in the heart of the two parties. You dare not force a man or woman into marriage, otherwise it becomes a nullity. The dowry ought to be paid as a commitment, no matter the amount involved. I was present when one of my sisters' dowry was paid. I was expecting the suitor to pay for all the expenses my parents made on her from infancy to adulthood. I was set aback when my father collected only N10,000. I was tempted to tell my dad that my beautiful sister was not so cheap at that amount. My dad laughed and said, “My son, no cause for alarm. It is just to fulfill all righteousness.” As a Christian, the last due process is going to the Altar of God to solemnize the marriage, which is called wedding.
Not long ago, a young man was caught impersonating a Reverend Father. He was going about in clerical cassock praying and duping his victims. One day is for the thief while the other day is for the owner of the house. It is popularly said, “One day be one day monkey e go go market but e no go return.” If one wishes to become a priest in the Catholic Church he must follow the due process. He must be eligible. Then he applies for admission into the Seminary. He undergoes a rigorous formation and studies, of which Philosophy and Theology are sine qua non. As the seminarian advances in Theological studies, he is installed Lector and Acolyte year after the other. Then he is ordained a Deacon. After some months he is ordained a Priest of God.
A satanic incidence happened in a Catholic Church somewhere. It was during a priestly ordination ceremony. An unqualified candidate dressed up like a deacon and joined the qualified candidates. The Ordaining Prelate mistakenly laid hands on him and anointed him a priest. Is his priestly ordination valid since he did not follow due process of priestly formation? He was just a dubious Christian and did not go to the seminary. He was installed neither a Lector nor an Acolyte. He was also a fake deacon. Should he be allowed to work in God's vineyard because he received accidental priestly ordination?
Impersonation is a criminal offence. A lawyer cannot practice without being called to the Bar. Some time ago, a fake lawyer went into a beer parlour to drink. By so doing he presumed he has been call to bar. From there he proceeded to a Law Court to defend a client. Is he a lawyer since he called himself to bar in a beer parlour (bar)? Also, a certain self-made lawyer was caught after practicing for many years. He just read Law books and started practicing. He was arrested, prosecuted and thrown behind the bar for twelve years. He is nicknamed Lawyer till date.
The hood does not make a Monk. Does the uniform make a soldier or a policeman? Several criminals have been caught disguised as soldiers or policemen. They are often beaten to pulp. One of such impersonators was caught red-handed one day in army uniform. He decorated himself as a General. He was bundled to Army Barrack and was beaten generally. He was made to do frog-jump as the soldiers were chorusing for him, “General! General! General!” At a point he started polluting the air generally. One of the soldiers slapped him shouting, “Idiot! What a poisonous general pollution!” Perhaps the fake General ate a lot of local maggi (ogiri), whose nasty smell sent the soldiers gasping for fresh air. In the midst of the confusion, the impersonated General sneaked out of the barrack. That was his savior.
Due process is the foundation of Law. An accused is presumed innocent until found guilty. Even if you caught an armed robber in the very act of stealing and killing, he or she must be given a fair hearing. He or she is charged to court with a lawyer defending him or her. Law deals with facts and not sentiments or presumption. All reasonable doubts must be cleared lawfully. Justice must be followed logically. The Magistrate or Judge after considering the arguments of the plaintiff and the defendant through their lawyers gives the judgment. Either he is acquitted and discharged for want of evidence, or he is sentenced to imprisonment or death, as the case may be.
As a secondary school student, I studied Government as a subject. We were taught the Principles of Rule of Law, the Three Arms of Government and the Separation of Powers. There was no Rule of Law in the State of Nature. But Rule of Law guides human actions in an organized society. No one dares to take laws into his or her hands. Jungle justice is unlawful. The right thing and the right procedure must be followed. Court Order must be obeyed, because the Law Court is the last hope of the common man. Willful breaching of the Law is a culpable offence. The Law is not the respecter of anyone, no matter how highly placed. If there is a dispute between a goat and a lion, justice must take its course. Might is not right. The Constitution is the embodiment of Laws that guide a country. Anyone who violates the constitution is sanctioned accordingly. No one is above the Law.
The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are the Three Arms of Government. Each Arm is independent of the other. The Legislature makes Laws. The Executive executes the Laws while the Judiciary interprets. Each of the Arm of Government acts as a watchdog on the other. None of the three Arms should suppress the other. Due process must be followed in dealing with each other. The unilateral decision by President Buhari to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, did not follow due process. This unlawful act has been raising dust in the polity. The Nigeria Judicial Council must investigate any misconduct by a judicial officer and recommend the sanctions. Also there must be 2-third support by the Senate for the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. That is the due process. The contrary amounts to jungle justice.
Dictatorship is an evil in Democracy. If a democrat turns into a dictator, the centre can never hold again. A democratic Leader becomes a dictator by contravening the Rule of Law and by violating the Constitution which he swore to uphold when he took the Oath of Office. A dictator does not obey court order. He does not follow due process in his dealings with the other Arms of Government and with the citizenry. In such a situation, freedom of speech, expression and movement are impaired. People are hauled into prison without trial or fair hearing. The Opposition is witch-hunted and punished unjustly. Human Right groups are silenced, murdered or sent into exile. A dictator can do anything possible to remain in power. For him, the end justifies the means. Who is preferable: a military dictator or a civilian dictator?
The 2019 general elections are at the door-step. If the elections are free, fair, credible and non-violent, then due process is followed. Any form of rigging is undemocratic and devilish. We need a democratic President who obeys the Rule of Law and follows due process. Nigeria is broke and divided. Nepotism is at its climax now. We want a President who will unite the country and respect the Federal character in his appointments. May the God of Justice and Due Process come to our aid!