By Willy Bantu

The Lady Justice statue has always been a solid, physical representation of true, aspirational justice. Attributed by a blindfold, a balance, and a sword, she symbolises the carriage of what non-partisan justice should look like.

This image above shows a fallen Lady Justice Statue supported by a wooden log in Nigeria. Without it, the statue will fall completely and remain on the ground; and just as a crippled individual needs clutches or a wheelchair for movement and conveyance, this Lady Justice statue delineates the sad state of affairs of our crippled justice system.

A few years ago, I was robbed of my phone and wallet on my way home from work. Luckily, I was able to identify one of my assailants. I went to his house with the police the next day and had him arrested.

I got to the station the following day only to discover he had been released on bail, yet I got none of my items back. Some days later I saw him, and a friend suggested we confront him to get justice but I said to him, “That is against the law.”

If society has no laws humans would gradually gravitate towards animalistic tendencies and behaviours, leading to a complete breakdown in law and order, ergo laws are necessary to keep sanity and uphold the integrity of a nation. 

The maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” seems to have no place in the Nigerian legal system. If it did, the crisis of inmates awaiting trial wouldn’t have increased in recent years, with the percentage of persons standing trial in custody rising to 72 percent. 

And this has conceivably resulted in a sharp increase of attempted and successful jailbreaks.

In 2016 alone, no fewer than 4 alleged jailbreaks were reported; June 24 at Kuje prison; July 30 at Koton Karfe prison; August 9 at the Federal Prisons in Nsukka; Abakaliki prison also in August. 

The citizenry has undoubtedly lost confidence in the Nigerian criminal justice system, small wonder some people have resulted to jungle justice.

The EFCC has made multiple accusations and arrests of people who looted the nations treasury, how many of them have been charged to court? And how many of them have have been sentenced to jail or discharged and acquitted as the case may be?

A sliver of hope may yet remain, because after four years of tension, anxiety and court trial, justice finally came for the four students of the University of Port Harcourt, who were brutally killed in Aluu community, Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State, in October 2012.

A Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, on Monday sentenced three persons, including a police sergeant, to death for the murder of the students.

The families of the Aluu 4 finally got justice probably because of the media coverage the case got and outrage it induced from the public. Victims whose cases don’t generate as much would possibly never get justice.

And for every case that proceeds to trail and gets a verdict, there are a hundred more that would never see the light of day. What then is their fate?

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  1. Good piece, Willy. I loved how you use the tilted Lady Justice statue as an allegory for the crippled justice system in the country. Would like to see more articles from you.

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