INCARCERATION OF AGBA JALINGO: A DIVORCE BETWEEN LAW AND JUSTICE – OPINION BY PELUOLA ADEWALE –Rights Monitors

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There is something cynical about the release of Dasuki along with Sowore. It’s like “if we give you yours, we have to add ours”. It is class solidarity albeit done belatedly. Dasuki is a member of the thieving elite whom the revolution Sowore called for is meant to sweep away. He only found himself at the receiving end of intra-class skirmishes as the whipping boy – the soft target. Yes, he committed a horrendous crime against humanity given the revelations on how money meant for the war against terror was unashamedly shared among authority thieves. But his commander-in-chief on whose instruction he acted walks freely in the spirit of “esprit de corps” among Presidents -Abacha would have been celebrated as a statesman if he is not dead. This shows the vacuity and insincerity of the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari government.

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However, being singled out does not detract from the fact that Dasuki perpetrated egregious injustice against society. Besides, it is sheer madness for the victims to fight for a level playing ground among warring factions of the robber elite. You don’t call for the release of an armed robber because the kingpin has not been arrested. It is a fair play that he does not deserve justice from society. So, while on the basis of rule of law he should enjoy his freedom, on the basis of justice he ought to get rotten in jail or at the moment be waiting for the hangman’s noose.

There is a difference between law and justice. Law is enshrinement of order primarily meant to secure the control of the society by the ruling elite. Police, army, and court are agents of enforcement of law. In other words, law is not essentially made to promote justice but to enthrone an order. It could be just or unjust. But justice has to be just. It does not need to be codified. It is natural, inalienable and fundamental. We don’t deify laws. We respect laws only when they align with justice i.e. when a law is just. But when a law is unjust we reject it and fight for justice.

Agba Jalingo is kept behind bars by a court order. Court of law which granted Dasuki bail at the first time of asking denied Agba similar freedom. In other words, Agba is incarcerated in the obedience to the rule of law! But his arrest in the first place let alone the incarceration is an injustice. At the moment, you can’t reasonably shout “rule of law” to demand Agba’s freedom. You have to demand justice. Similarly, on the basis of the rule of law Snowden who exposed the crime of the American state against humanity is a criminal!

By and large, law also prescribes modes of settlement of dispute or conflict between and within classes – all to maintain “law and order” in order to engender an enabling atmosphere for domination and exploitation of the oppressed class by the ruling elite. Sometimes concessions are granted in the law and order to the oppressed so that they would have faith in the system of their exploitation, and also to curtail anger from growing to targeting their iniquitous system. But, the conflict between the ruling class and the oppressed is irreconcilable. This is because exploitation and oppression of the masses are the oxygen that keeps the thieving ruling elite alive and nourishes their unjust system. Therefore, justice is not guaranteed for the vast majority in a capitalist society. We have to fight for it. Whether we win or lose is dependent on the balance of forces at a particular place or time in the course of class struggle. But to guarantee justice – social justice and economic justice – we have to do away with this unjust system.

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