Posted in #law

THE BIG BRANCH OF SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS AND THE LEAF OF MORAL RECTITUDE IN NIGERIA. A QUESTION OF DISCRIMINATION?

​Nigeria as a social precinct is presumed to be morally inclined although not on a realistic zone but on the theoretical plain.The assertion above is credited to the realities located in Nigeria as crimes and moral absurdities like rape, theft, jungle Justice, and all forms of barbaric activities gain substantial fecundity. Well, despite the eroded nature of our moral state, we undoubtedly would concur to the fact that we, as a peoples, cherish good conducts and abhor evil — notwithstanding that we are still struggling to substantially realize this. For instance, we disdain rape, murder and theft in all manner possible even to the extent of criminalizing them, yet they gain breath through one way or the other.

To now paint on the canvas, the purport of this paper is a proper consideration of the moral rectitude of Nigeria as a political clime with respects to the growing absurdity to sexuality in form of same sex relationships and marriages. This writer concedes to the fact that persons who are gay, lesbians, bisexuals and even transgenders have the right against discrimination by virtue if section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.  Well,it may appear that the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2015 defeats section 42 of the Constitution above. However, it should be noted that public morality overrides individual liberty and it will be antithetic to reason to pin our nation’s morality on a hanging pendulum by trying to play to the dictates of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT). Well, before taking a side on whether the above act infringes on the constitutional provision above, it is only apposite and plausible that the act be duely analyzed within the corridors of reason. 

Section 7 of the (SSMP) Act has recognized marriage to mean a legal union entered into between persons of opposite sex in accordance with the marriage act, Islamic law or customary law. The same section defines same sex marriage as the coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together as husband and wife or for some sexual relationships.  

Section 1(2) prohibits marriage between same sex persons in Nigeria while section 1(3) prohibits recognition of any marriage between persons if the same sex entered into in other countries. Section 1(1) provides that a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of same sex (a) is  prohibited in Nigeria and (b) shall not be recognized as entitled to the benefits of valid marriage. Section 1(2) is to the effect that a marriage contract or civil union entered into by persons of same sex by virtue of the certificate shall not be enforced in Nigeria and any benefit accruing there from by virtue of the certificate shall not be enforced by any court of law. 

Also, Section 5 of the Act  the offenses and penalties for holding same sex marriages or for performing, witnessing or holding the ceremony of same sex marriages. Engaging in the marriage is punishable by 14yrs behind bars while the crime of participating in gay organizations, public show of amorous same sex relationship, witnessing and abbetting the solemnization of same sex marriages, registering or supporting the registration and operation of gay clubs, societies and organizations in Nigeria attracts a penalty of 10 years behind bars vide section 5(2).

Having highlighted some sections of the prohibition act which at first blush appears to have eroded some sections of the Constitution, it is only apposite that the Act be analysed in line with the Constitution

It is no longer knew that the Constitution defines the relationships between the state and the individuals, the organs roles, powers and limits of the government and the rights and duties of the citizens. It provides for protection of citizens and rights that the government must seek to protect. This stems from the social contract theory which presupposes  that due to the harshness of the state of nature and its constant capabilities to degenerate into conflict, people voluntarily consented to form a civil society.

By virtue of section 4(3) CFRN, the National Assembly is competent to legislate on what must receive a recognition as law in Nigeria with regards to the peace, order and good governance save as otherwise provided in the Constitution and on any other matter included in the Exclusive legislative list. Item 61 of the executive legislative list is on the formation, annulment and dissolution of marriages other than marriages under the Islamic law and customary law including matrimonial causes relations. Since the birth of the same sex marriage prohibition act by the National Assembly as duely empowered to do by the Constitution, advocates of same sex amorous relationships have tenaciously alleged that the prohibition act contravens the freedom if expression, association and other rights guaranteed under sections 39, 40 and 42 CFRN. In deciding if the allegation holds water, this writer deems it expedient to treat those rights independently.

Looking at the freedom of expression, section 39(1) CFRN is to the effect that every person shall be entitled to expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without inference. Section 39(2) also provides that every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions provided that no person, other than the Government or any other person authorized by the president on the fulfillment of conditions laid down by an act of the National Assembly, shall own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for any purpose whatsoever. Same Sex Prohibition Act has not joked witht these rights of expression except where such expressly aggregates to aiding or abetting same sex marriage which equates to an offence vide section 5(3) of the Act

In practice, the right to expression is not absolute in any country as it is commonly subject to limitations like defamation, obscenity and sedition including ethnic hatred. Obviously, the critics grossly misconstrued the provision of section 39 by not construing them together with other sections of the Constitution particularly section 45. A cardinal principle of interpretation of statutes is that it’s provisions must not be read in isolation. Therefore, a decision to express oneself sexually, emotionally e.t.c is only covered by section 39 to the extent that such expression of one’s sexual opinion complies with other constitutional provisions like public safety, public order, and public morality as provided under section 45 of the Constitution.

Moving on to the freedom of Association and Liberty, these rights are recognized both nationally and internationally. The right to freedom of Association is guaranteed at the international level under article 23 of UDHR, article 22 of the international convention on civil and political rights, and article 8 of the international covenant in Economic and social cultural Rights, article 10 of the African Charter on Human and people’s Rights all guarantee the right to freedom of association. In Nigeria, section 40 of CFRN provides that every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.
 
On the basis of the above,the same sex marriage advocates have argued that section 4 of SSMPA violates their right of association and liberty. According to them, it would have been understandable if the Nigerian government simply defined marriage strictly in terms of the union of one man and one woman, thereby shutting the door to same sex marriages. But to deny homosexuals the right of assembly, and to criminalize homosexuality even where it finds expression in private among consenting adults is a gross violation of the fundamental rights of a significant, even if minor segment of the population.

The argument above may seem to hold water but the question remains that if indeed the act is done secretly, then it should not be known by anyone as the law is strictly on public show of same sex amorous relationships. Although the right to freedom of association is guaranteed both nationally and internationally, the enjoyment of this right is not absolute. Hence, section 45 CFRN is to the effect that nothing in section 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society (a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health, or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons. 

The fact is that if same sex group is allowed absolute enjoyment of their rights, others who are in the majority will have their own rights violated. Example, if there is a change in the legal definition of marriage, pressure will be brought to bear on Catholic schools and other institutions to teach and to accept that this form of sexual union is equal in worth to the committed, monogamous and heterosexual union sealed in marriage. This of course is an unacceptable infringement on the freedom of association and liberty, including not only freedom of worship but also freedom of religious practice.

At this point, it is expedient that the rationale for the provision of same sex marriage act in Nigeria be inspected mentally with dexterity. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It is a relationship rooted in human nature and thus governed by natural law. Natural law’s most elementary precept is that “good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided”. By this natural reason, man can perceive what is morally plausible. Hence, he can know the end or purpose of each of his acts and  how to transform the means that help him accomplish an act into the act’s purpose. Any situation that ventilates the circumvention of the purpose of sexual act violates natural law and the objective norm of morality. Being rooted in human nature, natural law is universal. It applies to the generality of human race equally. It forbids and commands consistently. 

With this, the implication of changing the definition of marriage to a union of two persons thereby attributing to it a significance alien to its natural meaning is that the essential nexus between marriage, conception and biological parenthood would be scuttled at a boisterous sea. 

It would undercut the idea that procreation is intrinsically connected to marriage. It would reduce marriage merely to sentimentality and to everyday sexual manifestations with emotional or romantic connection becoming the sole criterion by which the state is to determine what constitutes marriage. Moreover, it would corrode marital norms of sexual fidelity since the advocates of same sex marriage tend to downplay the importance of sexual fidelity in their definition of marriage. 

Taken to its logical conclusion, the redefinition of marriage as a union of two persons would also amount to legalizing amorous lifestyle or group marriage, and produce a culture in which marriage is deflowered of its significance with disastrous results for children begotten and reared in a world of post-marital chaos. 

From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the government’s resistance to same sex advocates is within the spectrum of the law and reason. Indeed, it is glaring that the enactment of the Same Sex Prohibition Act has not precluded the ventilation of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) as the law concretizes the enactment.

WRITTEN BY:

L.C. EGWU

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Posted in #law

A LEGAL OPINION ON MEDIA TRIALS; CONVICTIONS WITHIN THE ARM OF THE CONSTITUTION?

The above rubric appears to be a potpourri of conflicting imageries; a collage of feasible miscomprehension, an omnium-gatherum. Indeed the curious mind vast in law will prefer treating the term “media trials” in isolation. The reason being that the part of the constitution that backs the activities of the media are provided under s.22 CFRN 1999 whereas trials are more suited under ss. 35 and 36 CFRN 1999 and other procedural and substantive laws. In essence, the couching in s.22 remains unable to reproduce the coinage, “media trials” in its wordings. It provides thus:
The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

Agreed therefore is the fact that the media is a watchman constitutionally clothed with a mandate of opening every chapter of the Government to the people. The phrase “shall at all times be free” was the intervening point where the constitution brought a total liberation to the media. Trials on the other hand are a lot more technical. It has its time in the court of law in the presence of witnesses and evidence. The media is neither a courtroom nor a judge; the media is not a suspect, hence not a person tried. Hence, it is understandable to feel a little ache in the above merged words, “media trials”.

However, an average Nigerian with access to electricity and a working television will, upon pictorial evidence, understand the roots of the coinage. The coinage translates to mean a subjection of the suspect(s) to hate or contempt in the eye of the unsuspecting public who are moved into a quick judgement that the paraded suspect, whose allegations and bare face they see, is guilty even before a formal charge or information. Media trials receive air if we consider “the trial before the trial” of a suspect who gets paraded on televisions. It receives air if we consider the role of the police, the media, and the intention of the constitution. It receives air if we consider other laws as well as inception of logical reasoning on this point.

Firstly, it should be remembered that law is not static. It is expected that it grows with times and events if it must catch up with this speedy society. It is to this that this writer humbly submits that Nigerians are currently in a phase “of too many things going on” inclusive of quick opinions and meteoric reactions. One may say it is as a result of the hardship. Another will say the bias grows the more the crowd are victims in one robbery case or other offences. As a food for thought then, what becomes the fate of a suspect paraded in our televisions in the eye of the public eye? One other question being whether parading suspects in a manner portraying their guilt in the media to a mostly biased audience is legal?

We will now consider the first point which is “the trial before the trial”. To form a background, a trial is a formal examination of evidence by a judge in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings. It is the position of the law in s.36 (5) CFRN 1999 that every person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty. As is trite, a criminal trial is indeed demanding and overwhelming on the shoulders of the prosecution. The extent of its burdensome nature is like bloodstains on snow if we consider s.131 (1) Evidence Act, 2011 which has that:
Whoever desires any court to give judgement as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts must prove that those facts exist.

Already common knowledge to law students and practising lawyers all over the globe is the standard of proof in criminal trials which under our laws vide s.135 (1) EA 2011, is proving beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence is such that the law will rather walk on egg shells that it does not offend everything it stands for – which is serving justice and avoiding inequitable iniquity befalling innocent people standing trial. It is for this reason the prosecution will have to walk down the tedious path of proving his case to secure a conviction. The doctrine enshrined under s.36 (5) CFRN surely did receive colouring in the locus classicus case of Woolmington v. DPP where Lord Sankey LC stated as follows:

Throughout the web of the English criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen, that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt subject to what I have already said as to the defence of insanity and subject also to any satisfactory exception.

The conduction of the criminal trial then is such that in the eye of the law, the suspect or accused is innocent until his guilt is proved. But before the criminal trial, what a lot of suspects undergo is disgraceful and far from democratic. In few words, throwing suspects to the television with no televised visor around their eyes or making their faces blurry, is an attempt to open unreasonableness and pour its impurities on s.36 (5) CFRN 1999. This writer is not unaware of the fact that there are cases where the media uses a black rectangular image to save the suspects from damnation. But placing this few times on a scale with the much regrettable event of parading without veils, the arm of the scale bearing the latter will always tilt toward the heavens.

The second point is a consideration of the role of the media and the police. As already discussed, s.22 of the Constitution recognizes the media as the conscience of the nation. As the conscience of the nation, they are to gather information on governmental activities and disclose findings to the governed in a very transparent manner all to the endpoint of attaining social justice. The police on the other hand have their duty enshrined in the Police Act. Section 4 of the Act provides:
The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.

In ensuring law and order, the police have a duty to arrest offenders. No, this writer will never raise a brow contemplating whether such a duty to arrest is a right call as far as law and order is concerned. Of interest however, is the mode of arrest. A reflection into the spirit of the letters of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 will be our necessary destination. Two sections of the ACJA will now be considered; the sections include ss. 14 and 17 of the ACJA.

Section 14 (1) is to the effect that a suspect who is arrested, whether with or without warrant, shall be taken immediately to a police station, or other place for the reception of suspect, and shall be promptly informed of the allegation against him in the language he understands.

The wording of this provision is lucid. A combined reading of s.4 of the Police Act and s.14 (1) ACJA reveals that in effecting a duty to arrest a suspect, the police should “immediately” take the suspect to the station. The mention of “other place for the reception of suspect” cannot have included a destination to the press but some other place formal enough for them to deliver the suspect having such an atmosphere where the allegations against him will be read out in a language he can sleep well with. The mention of promptly informing the suspect of the allegation is a constitutional right emblazoned in s.35 (3) CFRN 1999. It then hurts the feelings of the law to see that suspects are not “immediately” taken to custody after arrest. What becomes the norm is the welcoming of the press willing to carry out their “duty”. This kind of parading, it may interest us to know, is not recognized in the entire Police Act and any other extant law in Nigeria. If by virtue of the standing orders of the police force vide s.47 Police Act, the President makes regulations for the force to include such a procedure, such regulation is unconstitutional.

The other section of interest under the ACJA 2015 is s.17. the long and short of s.17 ACJA is to the effect that after arrest, the recording of statement of suspects needs to be conducted advisably in the presence of a legal practitioner of his choice. Commonplace, however, is the disturbing activity of brief questioning and recording of suspects in the television with rows of ammunitions around them – mostly done without a black covering of their faces even. Whether it is a matter of ignorance on the part of the police force or that of disregard for the law of the land (so long as they can sell the impression of ‘doing their job’), is one this writer may conclude as both.

Where it gets interesting even is the implication of such parading in light of s.373 of the Criminal Code. This section states as follows:

Defamatory matter is matter likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or likely to damage any person in his profession or trade by an injury to his reputation.

We know what happens when people are paraded for having strong allegations like rape and murder levelled against them. With their bare face looking sober on our televisions; some parents already cursing the accused man. The publication leading to exposure of such a suspect (who is still innocent under the law) to hatred, contempt, or ridicule. So can it be said that the suspect has an action in defamation (civil or criminal)?

Open for our mental inspection is the legal position reached in the case of R v. Coughlan. It was held in that case that merely to publish of another that he owes money is not defamatory though if an inability to repay is implied it becomes defamatory. Understood simply is that it is defamatory if the public implies something that puts the defamed person under strict surveillance and contempt. Placing this position side by side with a news report alleging very serious commission of crimes against a group of young men, does it become a defamatory matter if the court later finds the accused persons innocent but the society finds them guilty on account of one costly parading?

It is not unknown to this writer that at both civil and criminal trials, such a suspect may be unable to secure judgement against the media particularly. On account of the contempt the discharged and acquitted suspect suffers eventually from his community, he may have due compensation from the police force. For the feasibility of a successful charge against the press, we are definitely looking at a tough row to hoe. The ingredients of defamation must be proved and the ingredients to be established are not easy as pie. The difficulty again is the media’s ready reliance on “fair comment” so long as such report was true. The constitution also gives the press a total liberation. In fact, the danger of wrong pigeonholing cannot be underemphasized. 

We are back to the question whether parading suspects on television in a manner portraying their guilt is legal? Before we answer this, there are perhaps some distasteful things to be considered. Ever watched on television, sessions where the paraded suspects are made to, with their bare face, respond to few questions at the locus criminis? Well this is now in vogue – actually, it has been a long standing culture. The curious part is why the police officers read the Miranda rights to the suspects upon arrests and offer them to make statements on televisions – clearly violating the constitutional right of silence vide s.35 (2) CFRN 1999.

The question above rests on the legality of such acts of the police and the media. Although it is difficult to say what legality entails – especially remembering that slavery was considered legal in America from 1619 to 1805, one must assume that legality here is one in the interest of justice. It is to this end that this writer answers that suspects have no business with the media ordinarily. We do not even understand if the term “suspects” is another name for “indigent” because we have never witnessed a wealthy man get subjected to such. So, the parading of suspects is not legal as such practices lead to very deep lesions on their fundamental rights.

This writer humbly opines that there should be protection for every person charged with a criminal offence especially recalling that the presumption of innocence goes to mean that he is a free man until evidence so incriminating are led and proven beyond reasonable doubt. This writer also advocates the need for equality of every person before the law. If this cannot be done to the wealthy, it should not be sports that the Police use to tell of their exploits in quelling crimes. The poor are still humans. This does not mean that if it were extended to the rich, it would be a welcome development. This is just to point at the discrimination. It is hoped that just as we witnessed the advancement in our laws vide s.306 ACJA where there is no longer found an entertainment of stay of proceedings all in the interest of justice, there be a cause to amend our laws to reflect the prohibition of public parading – the only public gathering known to criminal trials being the court of law. Indeed, the presumption of innocence cannot be overemphasized.


U. O. OKOCHA

Posted in non fiction

THREE DOTS: ONE BLACK BOY FOUND

Yeah, I still wake up holding my chest, trying to recover from those nightmares. But it will never stop – at least, not anytime soon. It never stops because I wake up to nightmares. Am I mad? What if I am just overreacting? I feel this is me being mad, my sanity being questioned by every black drink I take. I feel my heart racing when coloured artistes spit on the microphone, the truths. I read meaning into every lyric and if it touches my soul, I may start to pretend not to cry. The world is not becoming a scary place, it has long been. I woke up this time from my mare where a fellow black man was choking me in my sleep.

How is it said in Yoruba about the leaf never falling off the tree without God’s consent? Awon bunkun ko fi oju awon igi lai Olorun mo? Anyways, the mental picture had frightened me when a little child approached a young woman begging her for a penny. She gave the child money. Before she could breathe in, the child’s fellows doubled their steps to have their own share. The rag-like jerseys they wore could command pity from Jezebel. The tears of the five children begging for alms went ahead to draw attention from the crowd. 

Like skilled artists, they drew my attention. I watched her closely from a taxi – for the first time, I was grateful for the traffic. I could smell of her kindness, I could tell she wanted to make their tears go away. But she gave no other penny. Maybe she had little; maybe she had enough but did not plan to spend all that on the busy traffic. Maybe it crossed her mind that the children were acting their scripts. I stayed with my assumptions wondering if God was aware that death was all of the stains their dirty garments could reek of – these children could not survive on green Naira notes. I pondered on those things till I got fitted into my own reality – a reality where I had to fling my eyes toward the right side mirror to see if there was a fellow black brother staring back menacingly from the rear seat. The paranoia that pillowed my worried mind whenever in a cab, was a self-inquiry into the possibility of seeing all the filth of the passengers’ mind – to know who intended me an evening sacrifice. The criminality in Port Harcourt forces one to put every passer-by under intense surveillance. Every man for himself, we live like soldiers on a qui vive. 

I would often get reminded by a caring driver, “bros hol your phone tight o” sending chills down my spine – so I should be weary of my uhm brothers? – Too much hate in the hood, a good morning wish is an offensive word. I Learnt things were much better at a certain time, and that the economy was ranked one of the best in the world. But how did we get here? The lowest ebb. The evolving of Blacks into wild beasts; another girl child molested by a man of her colour. Depravity falling like rain, agony sucking her breasts. Who has bewitched us? To think that a Black man has three dots behind his skull to mean he is unburdened by genius. How can we call that a lie?

What will prove a tougher weight to tip the three dots postulate? Ben Hardy put his sweat on the bike Captain America rode. Ben Carson from Detroit separated conjoined twins. Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye operated on a 23 weeks old baby who had a tumour. The genius of Mohammed Ali lives on. The role of Marie Van Brittan Brown in inventing the home security system in 1966 along with her husband Albert Brown stayed off the news. Mike Tyson is coloured, Tupac and Fela were not about weed. Clarke Williams, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, and the murdered Malcolm X and Luther King remind one of some of our heroes. Unburdened by genius?

I remember sitting with a brother in the cool evening at a mosquito-abiding lecture theatre discussing the black curse. Every time we remembered the heroes of time, we would agree that the blacks could not turn out successful as a whole. But as a single individual black brother, we reasoned he could do the unthinkable. I remember how we came to an understanding that we should not use South Africa as a yardstick for saying the Blacks can unite and attain heights. Or that the era of Nigerian currency higher than a dollar is mammoth and lost in the wind. But today, I think differently.

We remember the Black Wall Street. It was right there in Durham. One could call it a country. Six hundred businesses, twenty-one churches, twenty-one restaurants, thirty grocery stores, two movie theatres, six private airplanes plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, schools, libraries, law offices and even a bus system. The genius of John Merrick and Charles Splauding, African Americans, in setting up the Wall Street was a touch of unity; the prosperity of its account had few whites like the Duke Family getting involved. Maybe the legacy would not have risen to the zenith if some White influence was displaced. But we remember the famous out of several attacks on the Black Wall Street to be the inferno provoked by white workers on an office owned by North Carolina Mutual. The prosperity brought envy, the lesson was the unity.

“Three dimples behind a black man’s skull.” The line was cold. It was more than just a script in the movie, “Django Unchained”. It was a reflection of how they saw us. What was believed to be untraceable in a White man’s skull, were the three dots representing subservience. If Africans could swap humans for a bloody mirror, the Whites sure had a point to think we were primitive. I mean, we let them in somehow, and it stays on record that we Blacks were the first transaction of the stock market – call it the “Black Plantation”. So collectively, there were signs of being unburdened by genius as at that time. But we should remember that nation building starts with one man’s idea. If the idea becomes a philosophy, the Whites were quick to judge us; if imprisonment was not enough, they may try to assassinate us. If assassination will paint them bad in the eyes of the public, they make the cover stories reflect their heroism in assisting Blacks end slavery. We remember the liberation struggle of Mandela; we regret the fame of Frederik de Klerk. Oh and lest I forget the first few words at the entrance of this paragraph, how does it feel knowing that Joe Mellen, white definitely, literally bore holes in his skull and gave his reason, “to stay high forever?” The genius he seemed to have unburdened. 

No. Not that I am grieving or anything. I just get a little disturbed trying to really tell the side really unburdened by genius. I am not an historian; I barely passed it in my WAEC. I cannot boast of expertise in war crimes either. So it is highly permitted to picture a lad swaying dangerously into illusions and striking his head on the rough edges of disillusions. That said, picture again the vital role of Britain during the civil war of Biafra and Nigeria. Then, remember how American government folded arms and watched from a distance. It ruffled a few feathers after its citizen, Bruce Mayrock (of blessed memories) burnt himself to death hoping the American government intervenes to save Biafran babies. 1967-1970, the civil war was one small nation against the world; the whites rather loved the oil of a country in conflict. No, I am not often hasty to draw primitivism from a man’s action, but the actions and inactions of the international body showed a class of persons with cravings to see bloodshed. Maybe I should rephrase it, “the White Government” if we must remember John Brown, Jean Seaberg, and other white citizens who died because of getting involved stopping the age-long segregation. 

Deep down, I wish the Whites could just be called the problem. I wish with the proof of the FBI’s COINTELPRO (counter-intelligence program) to indict, fabricate and assassinate anti-government set-ups (blank panther party for instance), I could say the whites are the problem – the problem of the Blacks’ economic disappearance. But they aren’t. We hate the devil because the Bible records he is a falling angel who misled His first creation. It is not even this devil that is the problem. It is us, we are terminating ourselves. We are our own undoing.

On some grey mornings, I wake up into the reality that Nigeria is a very special project that requires men with innovative ideas and opportunities. Probably cliché, but to think that the biblical consequence of one choosing not to have a vision for his country – being dependent on another country, results to a curse from God, frightens me. If we remember the civil war, the Biafrans made their own ammunitions and they had their own man-made jet. They fought the world and lost. But the lesson is in their independence. It is said that we are 58 years old. I will say we are younger. Nigeria was dependent during the civil war which took lives of over two million easterners; the cold war that followed while the igbos were adjusting into Nigeria once again was a noose of oppression and acts of genocide thus not fulfilling the make-up of what Independence should look like. We are technically younger people thence, if we can put all the past behind. And if we could learn from the Biafrans, we may have solved part of the problem in Jeremiah 17:5 – what we could call the Black Curse.

I hate to be a bringer of bad news, but we saw the coup that witnessed Ibrahim Babaginda replace Buhari on grounds of the latter’s maladroitness in matters of advancement of the economy of the nation. It is sad that after three consecutive trial and errors to be president, his final attempt which got him at the highest table is not one an average Nigerian is pleased to talk about. Economically, we are bust up into fragments. It is not in my nature to judge a man, talk more of my president, but another dot to be pressed against a surface is that of a desire for knowledge. Sometimes what we know do not help change things, it took Mandela 27 years behind bars before they took him serious. It took China 500 years before world powers could take them serious. The ideology worked. An ideology which could go as simple as “do to others what you want others to do to you”; knowledge of our entitlements and the world we mould in our hearts.

Ideologies like these are cliché and really basic but we often do not try it. We do not because we have not forgiven one another. One day we will be independent. One day we will have a national outlook. I may just bask in the illusion that a time will come when we evolve; our revolution founded on love. A mirage of not seeing those five kids crying in the busy traffic; begging for money, losing it to sachet water to quench their thirst, begging again – living on same routine. Can’t judge no man, my sins are leviathan; we are here maybe because we did not forgive ourselves – we love the hate within. We are here because we did not give up the past and redefine love for the sake of the national pride, for that of our children.

“The illusions are for a few. Many are misguided. Not everyone had the privilege of three meals a day, so I do not judge them. Not everyone had both parents to nurture him, so do not blame them. Not everyone wished to beg in streets or push a taxi through the day, so why judge them? Some were good till life made them rogue and there is hardly a guide to truth, so I don’t judge such.” Things I said to myself that made me cry. Things that whispered that I surrender when next I am choked in my sleep; what do I tell one of those children seeking alms down the street when I may struggle to relate to their pain? Won’t she throw her head about rejecting my admonition because she would lie on hungry stomach beside her dying mum’s radio, and for the umpteenth time hear the sugar lips of controllers in the system. She would sleep with her knife right there under a bridge. She would beg all her day, and scream all her night — splintered hope for a defiled little child. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.

Oh mum, the mares have come again. This time, affliction almost happened again. The armed robbers were finding their way into our own house. How did we get this filthy? Sometimes I try create a mental picture of myself being beastly, and I nearly shit in my pants. No, I am not without blemish, but my brothers have taken vices too extreme. It hurts that I must persist in my illusion of the world I aim to see. It hurts because I will be in a taxi today staring at grieves on people’s forsaken forehead — a reminder of the need to be disillusioned. The mad man I saw yesterday used to be sane, overthinking may have been the bane. It may be the first to find me, or the dreams I nurse for my country. Either of which finds me first, is a path to freedom; one where my worries are less and emotions contained.

MR OBEEZY

Posted in fiction

FATE’S RULES (1)

Have you ever felt ice in your veins? Something that makes you weep raucously because of its majesty. The feel of open heavens wetting your head with angelic dews when she whispers your name; a state where you are trapped and the prison bars are her winks. Like a gorilla, he will hit his chest in his usual braggadocio confessing the ordinary state of affection he had for her. Funnily enough, he hit those chests for three straight years and the ordinariness persisted like a bad habit. No way was he healing. The more he fought his right brain and blind heart, the more he grew feeble – the namby-pamby became too inundating for one man. A cross he had to bear nonetheless.

If a man is trapped or feels trapped and is fighting his way out of it, does it not mean it is a trap too dangerous? If he has to watch tears form a cascade celebrating his moustache with semblance of evening droplets on green grasses because of her majesty, then isn’t that feeling supposed to be desired earnestly? If her beauty typifies the finest of Egyptian goddesses or her eyes formed by the Trinity because of its amazing technicolour, the possibility that he has now become dopey from love’s injections cannot now be out of place. Yeah! With how he watched her closely, folding his arms giving that serious look like a donnish, Smith nursed a couple of cheerful beautiful butterflies in his stomach. The circumstance of their meeting was bizarre – maybe it is right to say that kismet handcuffs freewill and chooses who falls in love and who love fools. 

Sidi was eighteen. She had just gained admission into one of the famous Nigerian Universities – University of Benin. She came from a godly home. At least that was what could be read easily from her mode of dressing. Sidi would wear skirts that concealed her thighs even up to her knees. Her hair was long and ever neat. Sidi had a smile that conveyed the back channel of a very shy infant. It was beautiful to watch her smile because her dimples were easy on the eyes especially when it formed holes on her cheeks. She smiled a lot; maybe she knew it was her charm. Omo jo ibo as she was often called – her relatives believed she possessed the beauty of a lady from the native of Igbo. She posed as a good girl; her parents were satisfied their daughter would become a lawyer even as they celebrated with her during her matriculation. 

Smith was a law student in the same university. He was a senior. Loved by many ladies though they rather hid their affection owing to his pompous nature; he was the typical narcissist whose smiles were suspicious. His charm was arguably ever reliable especially when he licked his lower lip – it was beautiful watching his lip glisten like emollient flashy pebbles under a scorching sun. Smith was beautiful a boy. He knew. He explored the vulnerable colleagues who were enamoured of his cuteness and his baritone. A warrior he was often called because for every thrust, he made it count.

His best friend often reminded him of how foolish he was. “Guy you sure you are not cursed? It is only a fool that will lose guard a girl like Ifeoma. Haba na! She really loved you.” Smith knew he needed a life. He had ensconced himself in the world of concupiscence where he put the cravings of his phallus at the topmost part of the pecking order. He knew he needed to stop crushing the hearts of innocuous girls. He hated himself after Arinze told him these truths. But maybe he was just too lost to go back to the world of sanity or he just needed a reason to be truly committed. Smith agreed to be on a low-key diet but just when it seemed like fate smiled with him on his new passion for self-identification, a voice was behind him urging he picked a paper that fell off his back pocket. Sidi happened.

Some things happen in August. A person could visit. She may say hello. You may go blank, you may lose a nut, your body may grow cold, and you may feel like you have opened your eyes again. Ever felt like you can sell your soul to a visitor with hopes that she envelopes your soul in hers? Where you fear for yourself because you knew the feelings manifesting should be tagged premature but your reality was fate’s toddler. You were in love with a woman who spoke behind you or the voice that was possessed by a woman; or you were in love with the petite frame of a lady whose face you could not capture as her tress enshrouded her when a boisterous wind whistled by.

“Guy what is happening to you?” Arinze was quizzing Smith who had then adapted to the quiet lifestyle. “O boy, you look downcast. Person kpai (die)?” Charlie asked almost immediately after Arinze. Something was not right. Smith knew the confession of his encounter with mystery would arouse laughter so he swallowed his truths and massaged his heart with criticisms hoping the hubbub cures the feeling he had developed. He stifled his lip and managed to say, “nothing jare…Just a rough morning, lectures and on.” He told himself it would be over but deep down he wanted a new chapter where she was the adjurer instructing him to fasten his belts when she drives him crazy, crazily in love. He loved the mystery; he was somewhat expecting to bump into her to feel that cold rush of blood prick his skin till his hairs sprout like a tuber of yam. 

……………………………………………………………

Sidi was patriotic to her soft pillow every night since her eyes captured Smith’s face. He appeared fierce when she had peeped into his eyes. She fancied his voice. It was husky and as she put it to her roomie, creamy. “I don’t know how to describe his voice. I want to, Betty, but it is not an easy mission. The guy’s voice is musical; I would have said he is a mixture of falsetto, bass, and alto, but I know there is more to his voice. He is beautiful.” Sidi had often said when it was boy-time gist with her roomie. With few omissions and additions, it had just been about Smith. Smith was the only boy she could describe though she never got to know his name.

You think it is chemistry when a match contacts its box and makes an explosion, don’t you? You know that state where you see a boy for the first time and he becomes the only wonder of the world that genuinely matters to you; and should in fact matter to the entire world? Yes, this is chemistry if the feeling is mutual. It is magical where the lovers go through wars with selves trying to suppress the pain Cupid’s arrow swung between their chests. And it is comical too when kismet fools two jailbirds imprisoned by the deepest of love for each other. The dramatic irony we now read with elbows swallowed by our pillows.

“I hope I run into him. I feel it will happen soon. I really want to see his reaction seeing me for the second time.” Sidi had said to herself. 

Sidi clearly laboured under the impression that her tress was not faster than his grey eyes when the wind became unruly. She must have chortled in bed assuming he was desirous of her brown eyes. Smith felt she did not see him really. He chose to believe he was the only one spelled even though he could not brag of defeating the booming possibility that she fantasized kissing his neck well enough till he spoke huskily. He wanted to heal, she wanted to feel. She wanted a conversation; he knew he silently hoped for same.

………………………………………………………………… 

Ifeoma could not move on. She had become too involved to accept the break-up news. “He cannot straff me like a courtesan and dump me like some hot dunk! I will not allow him win this time around!” Ifeoma had wailed. “What do we do? I do not enjoy you broken like this?” Sandra retorted kissing her and rubbing her breasts against Ifeoma’s back. “I will ruin his life if he does not bow between my legs as he used to” Ifeoma replied as she stared at the hungry lips of Sandra. She was an addict; she threw money for the best drug supplies her money could buy. She was addicted to Smith. She tattooed her left buttock. It was like a dull black paint of his name. She became messed up after the break-up and settled for anyone willing to play with her body. Sandra was close to perfect, she was a panacea to her current emotional lapses. They made love.

2 WEEKS AFTER

Smith was not trying to find the woman with the voice that melted him a month back. He imagined since he barely saw her he would not remember her if they happened on each other again. He felt he was recovering from the sudden cold feeling until Arinze’s raucous laughter and incessant bantering woke him up. “Baba you need to see this video. See as this fresh student brush Ifeoma for the local music competition like sey Ifeoma never baff!” Arinze was laughing and finding air at the same time. He knew how to gloat and this was why Sidi’s description never came up. But this time it had to. This time he knew this voice was familiar, he knew that tress, and he knew that graceful petite frame. Smith heard the anchor call her name. “Sidi, Sidi…” He had repeated. “You know her… Guy answer me na?”

Mr Obeezy

The Story Continues…..

Posted in controversial, fiction

WHAT I AM NOT

Mr Hand was gripping a long lethal rod on his left hand and was striking it against a map. He was telling finger one the story about the importance of unity; he told finger two the same story till he had complete set of kids – he had ten children. But why will Mr Hand continue repeating same old gist? Cortex, my distant relative, will always say that Mr Hand became a simpleton after the body civil war of 2000 and don’t waste my time. “Huh? What year was that? And why was there a war? Please Cortex; tell me the belligerents and the outcome of the war?” I know. This request had its pros; it put me in the light as a lover of knowledge willing to learn. But the flip side is striking, trust me. The cons were no more than the fact that I was like a star fish having no ability to retain information. Oh my God! This was the 100th time I was asking this question. Like that literal colander expected to retain water from a tap; I never got to keep the bulk of the gist. Like the colander which had the feel of wetness after the inability to retain water, I had the sense of belonging which warranted my asking of the same questions. The second con would have been to question why I was not even aware of the war since I claimed to love learning new stuff but guys c’mon, we now know why.

The Body Civil War was fought by a bunch of iconoclasts who saw only their view as legitimate. These iconoclasts consisted of different clans. Cortex tells me that before the war, Mr Snacks would always throw jibes at Miss Ugly Mouth who refused to marry Mr Broken Nose for fifty two years – and now old age has cracked her elements giving the imagery of a seventy year old granny with thought-provoking irreparable sagged breasts. “Trust me, Amygdala, what begun the war was the denial of food and water into the government courtesy the annoyance of Miss Ugly Mouth who could not deal with the last banter from the guy who supplied food.” Cortex had said to me in his usual manner of squeezing his face giving the impression of a man trying to recover from a fouled air. “So what was she? Some minister? Some dictator?” I had quizzed.

Miss Ugly Mouth was a b*tch who cared only about herself. I mean why did she deny everyone food? Rumours had that she beefed Stomach – a young man who was pudgy in form and a perpetual resister of her incessant advances. She was rumoured to have snatched his towel from him like the biblical account of Miss Potipher. Just as you may have not expected, Stomach did not flee from the supposed-to-be sex escapade. She did. She fled realising that his pecker was a palooka destined not to ever make it out of a boxing ring. Can you imagine the reason for her hating on poor Mr Stomach! Well it was just some rumour, right? She was not the President but she never answered to any crimes because if she was found culpable, who would have been the channel from the food supply to the head government? Cortex talked about feeding tubes but he was only a toddler then. He got kicked by Mr Weak Legs as it was customarily called a disrespect to speak when the elders gathered. “I got kicked so hard, I could see my conception. The stars were shiny and the night was blue.” Cortex said with his mood downcast. If he had eyes, he would look like Puss in Boots.

So yeah, Miss Ugly Mouth was immune from the venom of the law. She was above the constitution and represented the sick president in ceremonial functions. Heart was the president who was but a muscle. He was the ideal social engine of the economy pumping resources around until the food reserves dried up and he became too ill he could not even help himself to a shit. Heart was failing and Mr Hairs, his personal assistant, shrunk like local bread. It was not a war of bombs clearly. It was just upper cuts, mind battles, and catastrophic smacks. 

The division was massive. More people fought for Miss Mouth because she was the channel. Without her imprimatur, they would be malnourished. Heart was close to a cardiac arrest; he had 43 holes due to poor health. He was overthrown before he could utilize Cortex’s point that tube-feeding was another means of saving the government from the gossiped extinction. Oh poor Cortex! Armies for Miss Ugly Mouth put three holes in his head that forced him to the world of abstractions. Too sad, right? No one can see him as he became the voice in the brain which cannot be seen with naked eyes. 

You may wonder why Cortex is abstract but I am not. Well, Cortex felt I acted too much on impulse and so he kicked me out of the brain’s crew. But to where really? I hear there is a passage albeit tiny from the brain cage to the left ear – as luck had it, I was freaking slender in frame to aid the feasibility of his assertions. “Don’t stop Cortex. Tell me the winner of the war and you know, the entire history.” I urged. “The gods must have cursed you indeed. Did I not say I was shot to abstraction? Tell me, do you think I can still be in the battle when the disunited clans wrestled themselves, ended my stay in the physical realm, and most likely fought on without spending seconds to mourn me?” he retorted. He knew only that much. The remaining findings he left to my imaginations. Did I imagine? Trust me, I did.

I imagined the end of the civil war. I was the hero of the long evening. If I was not decapitating heads, I was blinding Eyes – I hated his bulgy eye bags, it was so huge with no compunction. I saved Heart. I was like Jet Li and Bruce Lee; I fought like your favourite comic hero. I barely broke a sweat – if anything got broken, it must have been Mr Broken Nose’s nose courtesy my clenched fist. Guess who saved Miss Breasts from unconsented coitus invasion? Well I was there. I made the villains pledge allegiance to my fist. I was that bad ass bloke unusually found around your block. I was awesome – my suits like Black Panther’s, my voice husky like Gotham’s legend, and my build like Johnny Bravo (just with a wider waist). It was just getting all colourful until Mrs Scarface tapped my shoulders.

Mrs Scarface was the progeny of Mrs Burnt face. In my imagination, in attempting to blow Miss Ugly Mouth off the face of earth, I mistakenly fired missiles at Mrs Face. She survived the missile’s impact, married her doctor, and bore Mrs Scarface. “Hey what you doing out here in the cold? Winter has come boy” Mrs Scarface quizzed. I had heard the legends of Mrs Scarface but I did not think the books ever conveyed that she was an ugly troll with looks more terrifying than my poop. O white gods! I wanted to answer her but my system was way too concerned with letting fluids leave my pecker in no stealth manner. Clearly, I had more pressing issues. She walked away slowly with that frightful look of the white walkers. She whispered something like “the body civil war was fought by us all. A disunited family of one f*uckin flesh.” What was wrong with her? Now I had to picture another reality of a historical war that had me lose my memory.

She said I was a member of one body, one flesh. If I did the math right, I was a member of a matter – a human. Oh but c’mon, isn’t that some crap? Crap! What if I was a member of a primate in rampage – gods know how much I hate sows and some giant rats. They are matter too? (spits). Say I was part of a human, what was I, the amygadala? Ewwwww!!! The thought of that is like a hot dunk from a bull’s asshole. Oh now I get Cortex’s gist. I mean, I had little work to do in the brain other than to act too elated when something good happens; or like Hulk, persuade the entire body to smash the crap out of a man with the salient attributes of Pennywise the Clown. I was super impulsive. I was probably the balance between Cortex’s rationality and Lobe’s interpretation. Or probably not (sighs), I was kicked out after all.

Imagine the body parts in conflict; the body civil war presented by DreamWorks Pictures. The 3D version of Mr Pecker swelling uncontrollably and striking the thighs of the suffering human like the ancient oiled pendulum clock; that scene where the knuckles are fisting the eye socket and forcing a face off. Or the hands pressing the scrotum till it pops like some chintzy beer; the knees knocking against each other forcing the teeth to gnash like a woman in labour; the bloody body civil war where a man self-destructs. The war that I now watch with popcorn and cold beer; the civil war I tell myself I am not part of. 
What am i? if I am not in the brain of that human who probably was unfortunately lynched by his own hands, then I am a lucky bastard – save the possibility that Cortex lied that he kicked me out whereas the truth was that the blows from Mr Hand to the brain saw me flow in form of liquid all mixed with the blood in my left ear. If cortex was wrong once, then he can be faulted again; it is possible he never knew me since he was shot till he became abstract. What if I am the body civil war? I have too many sores like Job, I have only one ear, I have too many bad dreams, and I have a gash between my bloody thighs like a rape victim. What really happened to me? I guess I suffer from the disease of a disunited body where I am currently breaking apart. The body civil war where I am the human carrying the pathogens causing the destruction. 

“What really happened?” I ask Cortex the 101 time. 
OBED OKOCHA

Posted in controversial

I CHANCED ON NOTHING

Sometimes the screams replaying in our minds are deaf-threatening; they are lasting pangs giving cues of impossibility surviving every affliction they bring. Maybe when it hurts, the best defence mechanism is a robust rejoices in the echoes of vile mentality and pledging not to show people your tears, your scars, give up your pride, your…you name it. I chanced on something. The picture was blurry last night for reasons suggesting a soaked or leaked eyes leaving the object in so much vagueness – apparently, no limpidity means I chanced on nothing. But this myopic black ink prefers to glow through the foyer of uncertainties with white hopes to scale through black broken bottles, nurse red wounds. Though no longer a believer of the Black’s curse – the obloquium celebrated like religion or rite by my race ever unburdened by genius.

Blood, what is the biggest question you have faced that threw you into a sequence of non-amusing thoughts? Could it have been the fears of not making material gain in this vain life or just the very lethal question of what is the point? Fam, I just have it dawning on me that homecoming will have me not have you sitting at one of the sofas in my parlour telling me about your ordeals and the vain chase of your future goals. Sometimes I want to stretch a LOL but there is ever cause to reverence James 4:10 despite the silly thoughts of a really broad way of looking at Gal 3:28. I mean, it just seems as though man surrendered their commonweal to a monarch who of course cannot be blamed but thanked even when evil descends on his territorial sovereignty. We are permitted to be angry but not to sin; we are welcome to shed tears (Joel 1:19) for reasons appealing to our individual musings. The monarch is not dead but if he slept after creation, any possibility he encountered one sweet nap while one hustler got slain like a Christmas cock presented before flames like a sweet smelling savour? Can I say rest in peace to a missing body? All I see is ashes. “Nations rising against nations” may just have meant one pauper putting forceful determination of the heart of another boy known by the street – the farce of distributive justice; maybe Aurelius Augustine’s concept of ‘miserable life’ was to the exclusion of the rich, and the error in his assumption of the affluent being possibly encumbered by a mental illness is to the effect that we all are not entirely sane.

So when lil beezy turned 16, he would find solace in the stars – I know Blood, yours may have been some other firmament, your mirror, or the few dollar notes you get from due diligence on your laptop. What is the point? We do not wish to believe that life is run by a dictator drunk by his excess powers and playing us like puns to the mouth of the ravenous queen. Why? The “WE” must be distinguished to shelter the rich and accommodate the indigent. Only the indigent, most times, considers it as food for thought to flashback at their birth and how they cried as babes for different reasons. Many will wear indigence as cloak and that they slumbered and woke no more after one grog too many, is a typical chance on nothing – the Black population needs some purge, population census is becoming herculean. Few blokes will rise above the waters, they will be careful not to tilt at windmills – will they not say that life was initially unfair to them until they took it as an opportunity not an obligation? Will they now pretend that there is no trunk load of beauty in the hustle? Even the rich admire and envy those sweats of the indigent who rose.

Once upon a time, a man must need peace of mind. He will do everything to quell his demons birthed from ancient strings of harp. He will want to be loved and if he is a believer, he will call God his song – but once disillusioned, he will chase the dreamy lilies originally created by his Maker to satisfy his inner conflicts, inner desires, the urges of his phallus (simply, a companionship; the maze of a woman, the detailed rubric, “the necessary evil”).

I chanced on someone; I chanced on nothing…I chanced on nothing, I chanced on someone. Let me pretend Blood not to drag the LOL when you say a quick swallow of chill pills as due relievers are but signs of weakness. There is only need to concur with the definition of “something” if it includes the scribbles ‘something is to chance on someone who leaves no concrete chemistry burning in your bloodstreams and teaching no prospective lessons upon a withdrawal; thus, to chance at nothing’. Feelings are like brown stains on white panties; they are pellucid and could be polygamous in number. I pledged days to the star bottle with wished-for vegetables, and the mockers of my subconscious whispered to my inebriated self, the nothingness so much cuddled by various interpretations of the concept of love by diverse paramours, gigolos, hookers, broken-hearted, hen-hearted, gay, virtuous, and the free-thinkers. Of truth, not all throw caution out to the wind. The serial lovers chose impression and the broken-hearted snuggled the concept of expression. So what happens when two blokes chase a dreamy signora embracing the latter concept, expression, and one is easy on the eyes of the res (the dreamy damsel) on grounds of preference and supposed convenience, what becomes of the paramour whose deepness in expressions were rejected like Cain’s burnt offering? I suggest he applies spirit on his wounds and go for a booze – love is a game; good boys do not make history (if he was the innocuous of the two), they re-write them but at such inopportune time like a second life in the promised paradise.

 Forget the hurts, they are most times the ripple effects of so much cognition; if led by whatever demon to persist and crash the more, it is still nothing. I know, love is warped – everything is. I can only hope to remain light-headed – I even look good with my dreamy eyes.

[RUSTLES SOFTLY]

[EXUANT]
MR OBEEZY

Posted in poetry

NO RECOVERY

I thought my words were like emollient in your heart,

An arrester of your heart’s hubbubs,

The cream paints on your blank walls.


I thought your bland smile was proof my message had a soul

My confessions flowed like cascade,

I may have felt you saw my cues from the every tossing of your head

With your tress thrown back.

Vixen O my bobby-dazzler! Please don’t let you go.

If you go, I just may perish

Let me die a jailbird in your warm arms

Passion and deep passion of you remain my vices

To say I don’t cherish this kismet would be lies.


But you still loved another

My words came alive but you were dead to the letter

The walls whisper you mourn my tears with locked lips in your lover’s

My heart shreds to crumbs; I hear ravenous dogs now eat them.

Mr Obeezy