Autonomy or Autotomy? -By Abubakar D. Sani, Esq

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By Abubakar D. Sani, Esq


Wonders, it is said

Shall never end

Such is the rot

Nay, dysfunction


In virtually every sphere

Of our national life

That even the judiciary

Is not spared


As is clearly writ large

By the on-going industrial action

Supposedly by the Judicial Staff Union

But, who – strangely – are non-judicial staff


Over financial control – or lack thereof

To use the popular phrasing:

‘Judicial autonomy’

Or unfettered access to funds


An end to the present practice

Where the courts are tied

To the apron strings

Of the Executive


Notwithstanding the clear provisions

Of the Constitution

As severally interpreted

In subsisting court judgements


What does this say

About our belief in the rule of law?

Are the three arms of Government truly equal?

Why is the control of judges pay –


Not under their hand

But, is, rather, subject  to the whims and caprices

Of the Executive

Whilst the Legislature seemingly cannot be bothered?


This ‘conspiracy of silence’

Has lent credence

To the suspicion, in some quarters

That the situation suits the other two arms


Predictably, the strike has hit

Counsel and litigants most hard

Prompting the latter to march in solidarity

Which was, unfortunately, undermined by a ‘typo’ in the banner


Displayed  by protesting members

Of the Abuja (the so-called ‘Unity’) Bar

A cruel twist on the strike’s mantra

Achieved simply by switching a letter!


Promptly debunked – of course

As the product of a mischievous photoshop

But, seriously, when

Will this cycle end?


What does it take for the Executive

To observe ‘international best practices’

In the funding of our judiciary?

A new dimension? Some fresh thinking?


An elite consensus?

Another Constitution?

What is wrong with this one?

What is wrong with us?


In other words,

Perhaps the problem

Is our mind-set:

Our pervasive obsession –


At all levels – personal and otherwise

With money

And everything to do with it

For us, yes! To others, we deny


It is a sad irony, indeed

That those who wield

The power of life and death

Are – over their own – shockingly helpless


So, when next we grumble

About the so-called rot in the system

All we need do

Is a quick reality check:


Tell ourselves some home truths

Even if in the language of ‘the cool’:

‘Wake up and smell the coffee!’

Perhaps, we are our own worst enemies.


Abubakar D. Sani, Esq.

22nd April, 2021

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