Posted in law

LEGAL SKETCHES ON CRIMINAL DEFAMATION

“The public is increasingly disgusted with a steady diet of defamation, and prepared to reward those who refrain from it.” – MITCH DANIELS

INTRODUCTION

The law of defamation is one thoroughly handled under civil law, particularly tort law. It is under tort law, defined as injury to the reputation of the person resulting from words written or spoken carrying false contents and published to the ears or eyes of a third person; the intent to mislead a third party is not of relevance but sufficient enough that upon the facts, a reasonable man was likely to be swayed by the defamatory statement prima facie thus a heightened likelihood of holding a negative view about the person defamed. This writer, however, is not unaware of the fact that the abusive words or insults uttered as prelude to a fight may be considered as words not to be taken seriously after considering the status of the parties, and the circumstances that led to the bitter words. To be mentioned pronto is the fact that words written are called libellous acts and it goes as far as covering media publications or print outs. The defamatory statements by word of mouth, is called slander. Since it has been a brief discourse on tort law, it is safe to add that damages is the relief sought generally for this tort – whilst it is actionable per se (without proof of injury) for libel, slander could prove difficult as the claimant in establishing the basic ingredients of the tort must be able to plead and capture the exact words or gestures complained of, and must be able to lead evidence establishing same. The claimant must be able to prove the injury, generally, if the thirst to rope in the defamer lingers in the taste bud. It is expedient at this juncture to stress that the claimant leads evidence in verbatim which proffer not the substance but the actual defamatory words so used as this goes a mile in assisting the bench determine whether indeed those words in their ordinary and natural meaning (or other ways applied), will pass for defamation: AKIN OLAIFA V GABRIEL ADEDEJI AINA; CHIEF S.O.N. OKAFOR V D.O. IKEANYI – the import of this being that the court will not lend its hands to a claimant who hurls “hearsay evidence” to the courtroom seeking redress neither will the court cherish the testimony of a witness who robustly testifies what he heard from a passer-by because the claim will not be based on third party testimony who was not present when the slanderous words were uttered. A notable case is EMMANUEL BEKEE & ORS V FRIDAY EBOM BEKEE.

The arrival that slander is not actionable per se will tip the moment we consider the exceptions to the general rule. In instances where there is imputation of crime on the claimant, or imputation of a venereal disease, or imputation of unchastity, or imputation affecting business reputation; then there will be little need to further prove the injury as these are actionable in itself with damages duly assumed: EGBE V ADEFARASIN; OLANIYI V ELERO. There are defences to this tort but since the focus is chiefly on criminal defamation, it may be convenient a time to dwell on it – the defences to defamation under criminal law are similar in subject matter with that under civil law just that punishment with the option of bail is readily the comeuppance in the former, while it is for the latter, damages. Also, a criminal suit is come about because of the supposed inclination of such defamatory words to arouse passion, provocation, and revenge thus affecting the public peace the law strives to maintain.

WHAT IS CRIMINAL DEFAMATION?

The term criminal defamation is defined in s.373 (1) of the criminal code. To regurgitate its wordings, “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.” Subsection 2 has that: “such matter may be expressed in spoken words or any audible sounds, or in words legibly marked on any substance whatever, or by any sign or object signifying such matter otherwise than by words and may be expressed either directly or by insinuation or irony.” What will be agreed upon having read the section, is that the law is not concerned with the degree of hurt the defamed bears rather it is concerned with the likelihood of such defamation to have reduced the defamed subjecting him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Put it aptly, where the alleged defamatory matter does not go to show exposure to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, then there is no culpability. A typical scenario is where Mr A makes false statements about Mr C to the hearing of a group of people that Mr C’s wife goes about in different cars a product of which was owed to her libidinousness, then the offence becomes complete if such unfriendly remark was one enough to reduce Mr C’s household to ridicule and hate. The part that has to do with innuendos and ironies was seen supra in the succinct x-ray of defamation under tort law. If the defamatory words are done in means other than directly, then it will remain a case of defamation after weighing the facts and finding the nebulous comments to be ironic and laced with impropriety all in a bid to say false things about the defamed – it is the view of this writer that in 9/10 cases, innuendos may be intended false statements as the defamer seems to ever pass his message in a way that he could claim naivety as to his intent or innocuousness as to his speech. On innuendos, the case of Arayi v. Ojubu is key. In this case, A made an oral statement to a village audience to the effect that the Olu of Warri had ordered each person to pay five pounds flat rate tax and seven pounds each for the Western Region free compulsory primary education scheme. The magistrate found that the Olu of Warri had said nothing of the kind and that the words were defamatory. On appeal however the High Court held that the words spoken were, without an innuendo, not defamatory of the Olu for they could not reasonably be said to expose him to hatred, ridicule, or contempt. – this case, clearly not direct on point, also flows to the shore of the legal position that merely to publish of another that he owes money is not defamatory though if an inability to repay is implied it becomes defamatory (the position in R V. COGHLAN). 

A close look at s.373 (1) cc evinces that where the defamatory matter is likely to damage the defamer in his occupation or trade then there is an offence. This ordinarily means that he has a reputation to so protect that such imputation on his business reputation will affect his earnings and many other wrongs. It is to be agreed with Akintunde Esan that reputation of such a person defamed should not be doggedly taken or implied to mean a white life without a string of imperfections but this writer stresses here that such a reputation which suffered such imputation may not know justice if indeed his nature of job includes illegal trades and transactions. It is apposite to consider the last two subsections under this section.

SECTION 373(3) & (4) OF THE CRIMINAL CODE

Under criminal law, where the defamer is seen to have defamed a dead man, there may be no crime. This should be taken with due caution and open-mindedness as the writer is not unaware of the fact that s.373 (3) cc posits in blank prints: it is immaterial whether at the time of the publication of the defamatory matter, the person concerning whom such matter is living or dead. What must be gleaned from all, under this subhead, is that merely to defame a dead man, may be no crime and the logic being that if it were to be a crime, the conduct of the deceased will never be brought into question and it would ever prove a difficulty to write history. What this sub-section seems to cure remains the object of the ridiculing little wonder the use of it is immaterial; but for the dead it is usually a question of who becomes the object subjected to a likelihood of hatred, contempt, and ridicule. It is submitted therefore that where a publication concerning a dead man goes to affect his relatives in such a way as to bring them to contempt and ridiculing, there is an offence. It is an offence where the defamatory words are targeted at the siblings or household of any deceased individual with a view to bring them to hatred. 

With a close look at s.373 (1), (2), and even (3) cc; it appears that there is no need to prove before the judges, the intention of the accused to bring upon the defamed any shrinking reputation or otherwise – thus a similarity between that dwelt under civil law which dwells on the facts and circumstances of the alleged defamatory remark. But it is wise to give s.373 (3) cc a deeper look. It is not enough for the relatives of a dead person to cry about the hurtful words or the innuendos used by the accused and expect the judge to sentence the accused; rather, the relatives are to prove the intent of the defamer to injure them: R V. ENSOR. From the ratiocination of Prof. Okonkwo, it will appear that the proof of such intention becomes key to make the court see beyond the facts that the words were to the dead and no more, but are defamatory statements with a view to bringing the relatives to contempt, hatred, and ridicule. Reading the case of R V. LABOR, it should be understood that it must be proved by the prosecution that there was a living member of the family of the deceased whose reputation may have been injured by the publication.
The law is clear on the matter. Criminal defamation as we have been made to understand recognises the axiom that dead men have no rights nor suffer any wrongs; it also recognises the fact that in cases of this nature vide s.373 (3), the law is interested in the proclivities of defamatory statements made about a dead man capable of bringing to smudge the reputation of family members – it is the living alone that are subject to legal protection. Of needed addition is the terse legal confirmation that it is very material for the consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation to have been sought before prosecution of defamatory matters concerning a dead person is given flesh and blood in a court of law. This is the whole gist in s.373 (4) cc. 

PUBLICATION OF DEFAMATORY STATEMENTS

There is no mention of the word, “libel” or “slander” in the criminal code but a cursory look at relevant sections of the Code vide the definition section treated supra and even s.374(1) (a) & (b) cc, will show that the description attached in these provisions have same bearing with the branches of defamation treated under tort law supra. It has already been said what constitutes defamation in s.373 (2) cc – it goes to cover that of spoken words or audible sounds, and that of written remarks or anything otherwise than by words. From the definition section, the criminal code recognises slander and libel as branches of defamation from its wordings; and like defamation under tort law, criminal defamation must be published. Looking at s.374 (1) (a), for the purposes of this Code the publication of defamatory matter is in the case of spoken words or audible sounds, the speaking of such words or the making of such sounds in the hearing of the person defamed or any other person. Agreed, the publication will be complete upon the utterances of the defamatory words to either the hearing of the defamed or to some person other than the defamed. Where the audible sounds are recorded and are defamatory, it shall be deemed to be published if reproduced in any place to the hearing of the persons other than the person causing it to be reproduced. This is the law under s.374 (2) cc; the examples of such matter include tape, disc, and the remaining means mentioned in subsection 3 of this section. 

The proviso that centres on libellous acts is s.374 (1) (b) cc. It has that in other cases, the exhibiting it in public, or causing it to be read or seen, or showing or delivering it, or causing it to be shown or delivered, with intent that it may be read or seen by the person defamed or by any other person. It is transparent from this subsection that the defamatory statements will be deemed published from a mere exhibition of its content in the public with intent that it be read or seen. Both subsections end with the inclusion that the defamation is deemed published if heard by the person defamed or a third party. It is the part that allows for completion of the offence if heard by the defamed person alone, that shows the disparity between tort and the law of crime on this subject matter – it should not be forgotten that under tort, the publication must take place but completed upon communication to a person other than the plaintiff; for criminal defamation, an offence is deemed sufficient if uttered to the defamed and no more. It is the view of this writer, however, that s.374 (1) & (2) cc may suffer infeasibility for the singular fact that in cases of spoken words of defamatory matter, it may become impossible to prove the crime as there was no witness to make the prosecution’s case positive. How can words told to the hearing of the defamed only, amount to defamation? If the intention of the draftsmen in s.373 in its natural meaning is about determining whether the defamatory words were of high likelihood to bring hatred, contempt, or ridiculing to the defamed, then how is it feasible for the defamed to prove that beyond the emotional weeps he suffered after hearing the slurs, the words he heard alone were bound or most probably exposing him to contempt or hatred? It needs be reiterated here that the court is more interested in protecting the reputation of the defamed on this matter – one should be deemed defamed when exposed to hatred; or the tendency of its publication to attract some regrettable injury, stays high.

DEFENCES TO CRIMINAL DEFAMATION

The defences under here have large similarity with that under tort law. Just as truth of a statement is a justification under defamation in tort law, s.377 cc embraces such as a reliable defence.  There is yet another defence known as absolute privileges vide s.378 of the Code. Under this section, the president or governor is considered privileged upon publication of the defamatory matter. It should be understood that immunity covers these public officers vide s.308 of the extant constitution of Nigeria. The question as to whether the president can be sued for criminal defamation is one that must be answered positively where it is evinced that he stands as a nominal person – nominal party meaning one who does not have a personal interest but his interest in any particular case is by virtue of his office. The idea to be taken therefore is that there lies no criminal responsibility on the president hence it will be futile a course to aim for the big bone (a conviction): HASSAN V. ATANYI.

Say we settle here for a while, it is the law that no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against the public officers mentioned in subsection 3 of s.308 during his period in office: RAFIU LAWAL V. THE STATE (1981). A full read of s.308 CFRN will show that while the constitution puts shackles on the legal foot of a party to continue a suit that was pending before such a public officer came to know immunity, it seems rather silent as to whether the public officer that is now immune should as well be debarred from bringing suits to court in his personal capacity. But whether it becomes safe to hold that the public officers are debarred may suffer far-reaching intention of the draftsmen as it so soothes logic and no-brainer puzzles to hold affirmatively that the nearest in meaning of s.308 (2) CFRN, which estops parties other than the public officers from suing public officers in unofficial matters, is for the public officers to so institute actions civil in nature as it is common knowledge that criminal matters are state affairs. This is as good as it gets because relying on the lead judgement given by Onnoghen JSC in the case of Global Excellence Communications Ltd v. Mr Donald Duke, and joining my legal credo with Ayoola JSC in the celebrated case of Tinubu v. IMB Securities PLC. In these cases, the twelve tablets of interpretation were used in shedding light to a rather bright area (s.308) – the twelve tablets were given by Obaseki JSC in the case of AG BENDEL V. AG FEDERATION. In the Donald Duke’s case, judgement was entered for him after the due appropriation of opposing learned counsel’s argument which was flowery and laced with undiluted items of morality and no more. If indeed the draftsmen intended to debar the public officers, it should have done so during its construction. The mere fact that one might choose to call it narrow does not in any way change the law and the expectation that the court make fanciful abracadabra on matters within the jurisdiction of the legislature will amount to usurpation of power and clear neglect for the constitution it so seeks to protect by due interpretation – as Obaseki JSC put it in Ojokolobo V Alamu, “…if the language is clear and explicit, the court must give effect to it, for in that case, the words of the statute speak the intention of the legislature. Its function is jus dicere not jus dare. The words of a statute must not be overruled by a statute.” Of disturbing concern was the submission of Justice Abubakar Talba in a case situate at Abuja that late President Yar’Adua was debarred from instituting a legal action on a defamatory matter published by Leadership Newspaper surrounding his health status. It seems smooth sail if we consider Global Excellence Communications Ltd v. Mr Donald Duke (supra). Here a preliminary objection was made by the defendants that the governor is debarred from suing while in office in his personal capacity. While the governor succeeded at the trial court, the appeal was allowed in the Court of Appeal only to be reduced to dust at the supreme court level that the governor had such right to so sue; it was added by the court that it was not for the court to read in between the clear lines of s.308 and choose to smuggle laws that be not intended by the draftsmen. That we suffer our minds to matter purely concentrated on criminal defamation, it is apposite we segue into a conditional privilege.

A good read on s.378 cc will show that it is absolutely privileged to give testimony in a court of law though it is misleading on the surface. Defamation claim must fail here as the court expects that witnesses be free to express themselves without fear of imminent law suits over one false statement too many. In Liley v. Roney, a complaint to the law society or its equivalent had been held to be absolute privilege (this is found in s.378 (2)). There may be little need to dwell on the defence of conditional privilege but it must be stated as a matter of guide for law finders that the apropos section touching on this defence remains in s.379 cc.

Where the defamatory matter is published in a periodical, like tort law the alleged defamer is expected to rebut the presumption of knowledge by leading evidence to show lack of knowledge of such publication as well as lack of negligence if indeed the criminal responsibility be absolved. This is the undiluted message in s.380 (2) cc. There are other defences under the code like that of protection of innocent sellers of books and newspapers (381 cc), fair comments, to mention to this point.

PENAL SECTION FOR CRIMINAL DEFAMATION

Subject to what has been said in s.380, s.381 of the Code, and letters under fair comments et al, it should be taken broadly that any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for a year, and any person who publishes such defamatory matter knowing it to be false is liable to imprisonment for two years. S.375 cc is the relevant section that establishes what has just been said. There is no complexity in this proviso. It is the law that where the prosecution is unable to prove intent, then the accused will not escape the lesser conviction i.e. the one year jail term: S.179 (1), CPA.

Where it becomes a felonious act is when the defamer publishes or threatens to publish the defamatory matter, or promises not to proceed in its publication, or offers mischievously to prevent its publication with the intent to extort money or any other material from the victim; or to procure, attempt to procure for any person and from any person anything of whatever kind which clearly suggests an undue advantage, is punishable under the criminal code vide s.376 with imprisonment for seven years.
CONCLUSION

In leading evidence in an indictment for publication of defamatory libel, where the accused pleads not guilty he may show that such a publication was not defamatory in content, or that it was not published by him, or it was a fair comment and no more, or that it was absolutely privileged. Examining s.6 of the Libel Act, 1843, the accused cannot on such a plea seek to prove the truth of the matter unless, of course, he is charged with publishing the matter knowing it to be false. Justification, if and when pleaded, must be in line with s.6 Libel Act (supra). There is more to this subject-matter, but the above should be able to keep one abreast with the basics and little conflicts known or yet known in the legal community.

©Authored by OKOCHA Obed.

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Posted in poetry

THE ROAD

There was always that first poem. How was your first shot at poetry? Well here is mine😁….

Nonplussed, befuddled, not able to demystify
The agonies of life that compels a man to cry
Blood sucking Demons on the earth and up the sky
Endless killing in place like a blow right in the eye
The trembling —
A story of a young girl in her prime
Innocuous, innocent, she is tagged a flower girl
Given to firm beliefs that she can’t die before her time
Bonzer! That was when her problems start’d to swell
The road —
False evidence against reality, fear
8 o’clock news purging forth bad news in the ear
She is scared of the horror, against her own belief
A visual field of demise was formed in her heart, now conceived

O thou Evil, how impenitent you are
Always seeking to devour any bright and morning star
With its expertise and caprices, it gets down every car
The story of the young girl was, for death, a new chapter
The trip —
She relinquished her fears and thought to pray
Casting and binding her fears, the one and only Abaddon
The Demon stood with friends whilst awaiting his prey
She embarked on her journey – could this be called Armageddon
The midpoint —
The whole essence was Benin to PH
She awoke from her slumber, she was in Imo, touché!
Feeling happy, to herself she began to sing
It happened! Alas!! A dog was on the road and the
driver had to swing.

Tragic! All efforts of the driver was invalid
The bus did several stunts, it was worse than the movie Matrix
Nobody could shout God for it seemed now very torrid
She still believed her God won’t act in a manner rather torpid
The encounter —
Two tires scurried away with great meteor
Just as expected the bus was spinning upside down
Laughing vacantly, Abaddon felt gladdened to destroy
Abigael managed to stand with no bruises up to down
Such ignominy —
The plans of the evil ones had failed
Her star was not a meal,deux ex machina prevailed
Only her survived, I would not say she was fortuitous
God’s glory evinced, even THE ROAD was not contentious.

OKOCHA OBED.

Posted in poetry

AKRASIA

Gifted hands at sketching nudities since two

Mama’s proscription of demonic possessions scared you

The sun shone at your star and it was true

But you were too busy not breaking mama’s rule

Look at you!

The genius of Michelangelo was in your ink, as your tool

Too scared were you to break away from mama’s fallacious credo

You disappoint, you disappoint.


Many maybe every never stopped coitus with perversion

It is preferable to hide this truth with verbosity

But we weak

We just never take the prescription

Give the lad the letter, he nuzzles only the aesthetics

Take the truth to the hearers, they giggle at your diction and pronunciation

Take it to the gentiles, they say preach if they perceive no animosity

But all along they knew the message, just adored their akrasia

Somebody was not ready for the price 

Someone was not keen on nursing ambitions

You disappoint, you disappoint.


And when the time comes, you will know

It will be like thick smudge without rags to wipe

The time for you will come when your mornings meet the night

Then you would wish there was more to tapping your foot on the earth

Where your bright ideas mourn your weak flesh

When you are compelled by regrets to count your fallen stars

The birds of the air will assist your laments with dirges

You wake up into the best advices at grey hairs too late

The absurdities

Your weeping is then grouped with banal anonymity

But you knew you had a passion for drawing

But you refused to take the risk of further discoveries

But no buts.


And if it is fair to learn from a man’s regret

Will it be fair to be the man with such regrets?

Oh! Your choice

Pregnant with resources don’t guarantee a safe delivery of potentials

Too much passion without a thorough mental is a miscarriage

No ambition with abundant wits is murder

Akrasia is abstact noun,

Its reality is in a man’s indecisions

Its spark is in omissions of common knowledge

Its being is the weakness many never wrestle

But it is okay to grow slowly

It shows you love the message not the messenger


Maybe we are artists finding inks as duties

Like the boy, we sketching our purpose from its nudities

Unlike the boy, we sketch it with garments with a step into uncertainties

In our hands lie the ink and paper to write our stories

We are the means

Our silence is the weakness of will in the end

It is not enough to tell oneself that mediocrity is a concern

What you did not do about it makes you history

You disappoint, you disappoint.


OKOCHA OBED


 

Posted in Uncategorized

FOR SOME REASON(S)

Once again I grip my pen to write something to my community. But my thoughts are jumpy; I am pregnant with the voice of disqualification to send the message. I ran close to the rocks to question the sudden feeling of incapacitation somewhere in between my tongue and my chest but for some reason the rocks were mute. I am Black – for some reason I learnt this by rote till my subconscious dined in graceful relaxation at the sight of coal skins I saw on Google. Without exactitude as to subject matter of this letter, I place my holy book close to my thigh that my eager fingers mislead not my community to a web of confusion – could be a sanctimonious move, source of inspiration, or self-deceit, but the intent is all that matters. So with unnecessary iteration, I verbalize that the colour of my skin is Black and my ink floats to staining point on my manchii, black men with every black issue, community, squeaky clean black apples I enjoy when left in vagueness – each mention in no particular order. So after six nightmares in one night, I am led by my flight hormone to state unreservedly that I am not qualified because I suffer what we all suffer. Be it from the throne of hypocrisy to slimy lies; from the black confusion to fury fist fights; from believable activism to underground nepotism; from the ironies of October first’s significance, to over 700 million US dollars dependence and shit! Someone has to write, someone has to accommodate the stones of hypocrisy if a change in today’s reality is to be swallowed by the perfect ideology of the black slaves. It is raining hard here that I cannot here my thoughts but I am not sorry all the same if my message has a drum full of maze and hyperbole that dribbles you to frustration or if its truism leaves you unrepentantly disgruntled.

At the mention of the word TRUTH, what comes to mind is the problem as it is… inasmuch as solace should not be given to that interpretation, it may be pardoned because the black issues have oiled the solutions to dusk. For some reason, there is the need to stop the clamour for racial bonding because if we moonwalk back to Obama’s campaign, the black community was keen on voting because Obama was a black man who had a torch of ancient narration mirroring the travails of an average black man. The controversial theories and emotional outbursts of black Americans did not leave the niche of the white government is interested in none of our interests – some placards carried by the blacks displayed Obama’s image but the holders of the placard were too excited that they thought it arrogant to do a dig up on intellectual Obama. But what is the point? The year 2012 was a trying time for the erstwhile president of the United States and the Blacks lost hope and tiptoed to the realm of a niggotry raging syndrome – the remark despite his start-but-not-finish projects that he was confident to win again if there was a slot for a third try, was a grotesque and creepy moment that scared the shit out of some black men in Connecticut and typical black villages. So if history holds that the level of nepotism in the white race was at a GP tank level, Wiki should be quickly updated to include the black man fought the good fight to out rank the US in nepotism slot. Nepotism is just favouritism – it is a contagious virus that seems right in the eye of the practitioner as it has a mellifluous way of pummelling the gifted hands and accepting the inept fingers of persons knitted by consanguinity or affinity, tribe, or sex. If we want to be seen by the world to have a favouritism-free outlook, then we must start seeing every tribe beyond a stereotype – it is achievable to my mind, I understand your giggle. 

The Eastern part of Nigeria has been the gist on Facebook – the diatribe on social media all geared towards a call for secession. The seventh verse of the third chapter of the book of Proverbs frowns at the appalling folly of the leadership of the corruption activist, and the London-based Easterner on a mission to presenting a mirage to the amygdala of his minions. If the allegations stand as a matter of truth that IPOB have for themselves a garrison with sophisticated cannons, then I have saved for myself a black robe to mourn the washed brains of people who think the miracle of war in arms and the man and david and goliath is attainable course meal any time soon. For some reason the youths who never saw or participated in the civil war of 1967 are finger happy airing their voices via messages on the media – the internet has become the voice of the voiceless – on why a split is fair and apropos. But who is asking the question whether Kanu intends to rule as a democrat if there becomes a country? For some reason the youths have stopped thinking – if at 57 years Nigeria is still accused by our internal recess of decaying at infancy, how feasible is the expected happiness of these justifiably emotionally bruised homogenous indigenous peoples whose homogeneity over time never spoke with one voice? Have they imagined their one year old? By necessary implication, the agitation seems to be politically inspired and clothed with a people pleasing rubric called MARGINALISATION. And maybe for some reason the Easterners feel they should have a shot at presidency hence the ruckus for a break up, but the constitution seems fairly penned on election matters without the motive of hurting the feelings of the finger-counts Eastern state. If the first man of Nigeria had masturbated wisdom into his inner cockles, the python dance should have never known reality – to err is human after all, but continuous folly is the configuration of a man into a bleating sheep. Bullying the people in the East violated their fundamental human rights and to show why there is difficulty at a settlement, the South Eastern Governors are cold porridges and meteorically wiping their hands off the agitation to safeguard their level of belligerence to the man that wielded political muscle – for this reason, it is comprehensible why one should barf at the obtuseness of these Governors (and yes…with all due respect). The restructuring agenda and enhanced peace talks is the banal solution to the sensitive conflicts, but the Government needs to understand this trite solution line rather than bask in further bugs like proscription of agitating group to be a term still suffering due definition. For some reason we have been wise in our own eyes, it is for this we ever retrograde and behave like cannibals with little regard for human life. But then, do you not disagree with me?

I read Clinton’s article on the young people’s bill and for some reason I took sides with Destiny’s comment that the youths are not ready for leadership. If it is not a manuscript carrying the heading of a suggestive erotic manifestation, or the gossip news of whose nip slip did not escape the flash of a tech camera; then carriers’ of solution tips to salvage the economy are called mere preachers – for some reason it is inductive, but maybe it can be understood an angle as history chose to preserve the past activism of the Dino’s to the present extravagant credo of same personality. But just look inwards and see how tawny and morally depraved we have become. Will I not be a bloody hypocrite to petition Google to have the porn sites ensure that no free sexual performances be on display? But we know the reason for our depravity is because we have worshipped the feet of idleness. For some reason it should not be misunderstood that I now take to calling the black youths porn addict; the point made is that there are lot of ways we can add value to our society rather than dwell in yucky creamy spill overs for personal aggrandisement or its equivalent. I see a youth with the vision to reforming barren laws like the unsavoury wordings of the code on defilement which allows for two months for the offence to know the court record books or no more. There is a lot of impact if for some reason we realise that we need to rise above hypocrisy and blame games – we should not wail and depend on the unborn babies with magical wands to cause a change. 

For some reason we need to tell one another that self-centredness is the way to perish. The entire favouritism and power tussle is all in a bid to enrich oneself. For some reason my paragraphs are like excerpts of three different texts reflecting the need to be less hypocritical, united, and vision-driven. But what do I know? If for some reason you managed to read to this point, please join celebrate the wisest man and father of this scatterbrain-a-writer. For some reason God has kept you pops…. THE VOICE is lucky to have known what Earth looks like through you. Love you!

OKOCHA OBED

Posted in love, poetry

IF YOU MUST GO

And if it is a must
Dust your pants when you pull yourself up

Frown a little; frown because it took so long

Then squeeze a smile.

Squeeze it till your face’s content is beam

Look afar with less regrets.

Think of you after you’ve healed

Heal – 

But can you?


And if you must go

Have a hope that despite failed attempts

You fought the good fight.

Smile – 

But can you?

She is not in love.

No! She is; she loves someone not you

You are genuine with feelings so true

Forgive I am skeptical about your healing.

So just breathe – 

Or probably shouldn’t.

Will her lovely fragrance not find your senses?

Stiffen your nose off this afoul condition

Take this advice and your aftermath is death.


Only if you must

Walk up to her and don’t talk uneasy.

Speak with passion and crazy

Then she would have known, felt and 

Believed that eyeballs do turn flames.

Show your fears only in words

Show recalcitrance to quit all the same.

And when she screams NO!

Hold her close, and gently stroke her hair

Walk away without one apology.

Then heal – 

Thank your Creator for ending your paranoia

Stop Celine’s blues.

Those are clues to suppress the ancient cues

But can you?

You love her beyond the blues

So get busy; be busy that you can’t think

Take the advice and harm your health.


And when you must go

Beware of earlier scenes of obtrusion

Take a bow

Call it a game; promise her no further tension

But tell her – 

She has an unknown right to know

You won’t stop loving her.

Do this and be close to that feeling

The feel of a cold heart and immediate body freeze.

But you will live on.

This way you show you have gone

But deep down your heart weeps and craves on.

You let go without self-deceit

You go now because you fought and lost.

So hope!

Today you are broken

Tomorrow you may be whole.

It’s fine to fight before using the door.

Break while you fight till cupid calls you lurid

Yes you were stupid!

Stupid in love and never timid to confess.

So hope!

Hope the inner noise knows tranquillity.

I can’t swear you will heal

But now you can go, if you must.


OKOCHA OBED

Posted in Uncategorized

THE CHASE

Stop wasting my time, drunk Trinculo. You clearly have no idea what staying alive entails. You know, I have watched you from a distance and your level of debauchery require a thirty thousand word count for a proper synopsis – oh such a failure; expected debacle no doubts. The barrels you emptied into your protruded stomach suggests you are basking in the realm of surfeiting yet living small with a crumbled marriage and deserted twins all choked in your state of mind that the kegs have tried but will ever fail to take away. Do not think me confused as to the identity that will surely have to choose between the pellet gun in my left hand and the short gun in my right hand. Your name is Andrew Opete. A very promising young man when you were much younger. I watched you from the years when you were skinny with dull eyes. Your every return from hunting, were met with smiles despite the deep lesions on your skin as long as you slayed a rabbit. You grew into a tough man with sinewy physiognomy; I watched you bathe behind the mud house when you were still sixteen years only to watch you bathe girls older than you in size and age – your dexterity at throwing about your huge penis must have brought them close to you at such a rather young age. You were the Okonkwo of your community from twenty two; you won all local contests as well as the heart of your Obi (king). His daughter (the princess) loved your biceps and you admired her waist line. She became part of the profusion of Cinderella’s that had a slot in your bed – you probably must have called your intercourse with her, a royal rendezvous. You remember how your popularity waned after the princess caught you declaring puppy love for Idongesit in your tent, and mourned the loss of her virginity to an insatiable bull? – of course she called you that in her father’s palace. You were supposed to have your head dismembered from the holder, and your stomach wall, dilacerated till red was the only thick liquid available to wash your isolated head as was tradition. But I saved you not then by not pulling my trigger. I regret it.

Look at you now. You have grown to appreciate misery like a spoilt child having a swell time in the dark. You now smoke big pipes and have smokes escape from every necessary aperture in your body. You officially became a recluse whose companion became cheap grog of eight or nine bottles at the usual pothouse. You surely must miss your wife – I hear she parades the market square twice in a month wearing sack clothes, and swallowing her breasts with her palms cussing the day she met you. O Andrew, your children are seven years of age. You know. They have been declared wanting in three villages and have taken to hiding in rat holes or affordable motels in a strange land. But here you are chasing a fetid hobby as perversion. You had a chance to be a good father, you know, but you chased puerility at a rather ripe age. Not like I do not know why you carried different women and called your wife your beloved sister – on days when she attacked your disturbing behaviours, you never ceased punching her and compelling her big buttock to satisfy your defiled cannon with two eggs, spitting on her face calling her a witch. I watched you go mad but you watched you control your affairs – a simpleton you had become. There really is no need to weep my friend. The death will be with meteor and you won’t have the opportunity of examining the torn tissues and lesions that will manage to constitute a nuisance in your corpus. Let me end your miseries so you won’t one day writhe on the hard earth after discovering the grog will never make your operose heart any lighter but light headed.

Here on my left is a pellet gun with blank cartridges and sealed gas vent created not to necessarily aid the excretion of a shad cutter from a barrel. But with deft hands have I perforated the gas vents to accommodate aluminium pins housed beside the blank cartridges so that the pins come out from the flat side and not the ogive side of my barrel. With red wax applied around the vent, there will be pressure upon the intercourse between the primer, the breech, and the barrel. To your left chest will it be – the muzzle just firm on your body. The pins will penetrate your pericardium from side to side and the heart. Do not be tempted to ask if the dumb police officers will find the saver, the pins are not bullets and so there will not be trace to any popular revolver as a pellet gun is just a manufactured dummy gun (laughs). I have never experimented this kind of imposed salvation on a man before so I brought a short gun, it is rifled, and it maims victims – call it mutilation if you so wish, Andrew. Do not be tempted to ask the same question because the saver will once again be saved as the barrel of a short gun leaves no striation or marks on its bullets. It is just an abnormal gun, good for kicking hard against pricks of your kind. It will be your salvation tonight once you make a pick – stop the wailing, you know your soul wants death. Do not mind the flesh, it craves for hope for a no-hoper; I have killed a hundred of your kind to know this. But as is my culture, let me say you a prayer.

The chase of a man to concern things that do not yield fruits is death inducing – so is the fate of this unclean man, Andrew. The chase of a man of such kind, dear Ariel, is a no chase – this is as you taught, great Ariel. The chase can only take three forms which are the chased, the chaser, and the man not chasing; great one, you taught that the chased is the individual that has a dream and lived or is living it, while the chaser is one who has a dream and hopes to sit with the chased someday by zeal and work. You taught that the ones not chasing are those who wake up every day with no expectations; they are the souls that lost their way and created a shindig in their dark route. Some chasers grow with their mature dreams only to dash it away because of a misconception that life is a bed of roses for those who labour; so they find their path in the foyer of the regular no-chasers unfortunately – the dreams die, and they mourn their nothingness with every stipend they get. They burn their chests with hot drinks, urinate on their trousers when drunk, and cuss the day they were born. They all want to die, the grog hardly kills them. You taught that the trio eventually leads to one solid equation. The equation where even the chased keeps chasing more purpose because a man has an insatiable desire always; the equation where the chaser is being chased by discouraging elements; the equation where the no-chasers are chased by the cold hands of a soul-desired death. O I pray that the bullet or aluminium pin will go right into every no-chaser who has chosen to live a purposeless life. Let my bullet or aluminium pin serve as salvation and a grant of the wishes his body language suggested all through his miserable fifty and one year on earth. Because it is normal to have those that will chase and become rich; those that will chase small dreams and be happy with their crumbs; and those that will not chase because verily only a few persons are big dreamers, I pray that upon the fire of whichever weapon of harm this no-chaser chooses, it shall be for him eternal peace in the interim pending the final abode you, dear Ariel, will appoint jointly with Apollos and Abadnoha. Accept the soul of a simpleton who did not multiply the talent given him by you. Thank you for trusting me with errands of this nature.

You may say amen in your mind, Andrew. You pick the pellet gun? I cannot hear you and I do not intend letting out my short gun off your mouth. Fine, I will pick for you (engages trigger of short gun). Goodbye buddy, this time I do not regret ending your wasted life.

(Gun shots)……..hunter walks away.
THE END!!
©OKOCHA OBED

Posted in controversial, non fiction

PAINT ME A PYRAMID

So there was such a time when I did not know the meaning of ingrate to be ungrateful. I remember I dumped the word in my head after overhearing a long quarrel from our quarrelsome neighbours downstairs. It seemed like a pretty strong word that could give my cherished slurs, “abo” or “sprate”, some juice when doing the regular face off in high school – sprate? What the hell was that? When smart is dumb. But where is your chill? It was my fifteenth year on planet Earth. Still some dumb shit? Well you know there is a whole big difference between then and now. Who forgets the muscular Neblin? Thank God we never got into some real punch me-first blood fight after I called him the dumped in word learned by conscious belabour – rote if you like. Yes. I called Neblin an ingrate with so much confidence to drive home before he gave a look of awe – no, it was not awe per se; he gave a look of disappointment. He asked if I knew the meaning of what I just said in the middle of the exchange of everyday vapid rhapsodies like “flabbergasted idiot”, “nincompoop”, the scallywag (not without the stretching of the choked first vowel) . With his cheek bone going high and low without the usual patch of flush on his light skin, I knew I was done for. He bad mouthed my level of reasoning – it hurt because it just happened to be true; he asked me how my mention of ingrate could make any sense when he owed me no favours. I retired my loud volume like sprinkled water on a bad stove. The sun became hotter, and how it ended has escaped my grey matter. I just know we got close after his victory. Closer, when he could not dance better than me. The bond was in its fullest when I rapped to his choruses in Mateco Hall – yes, there was that good time. Other good memories of other good buddies still play soft blues in my recessive memory. I mean, that is the new supposition.

I miss Mmachuwu. I mean, who did not do the best friend forever thing back then? Where you promise to always keep in touch come what may. Those who did not do the BFF thing must have been lone wolves or just wiser mammals – I mean, grey hairs on a very young man in the phase of adolescence. Well to those that managed to hug a girl/brother into your BFF fantasia world back then, my story had a bit of twist too many. What happened along the line? She runs a four year programme in a university different from yours and for some unknown reason, falls victim of swapping sim cards like some trained missionary, hunter, assassin, and the heroes on the comic books. I now like her photos on Instagram – you know; the double tap thing. She does same but without the comments. Just say you miss her right? But you always know when she is keen on giving blows below the belt with the pestiferous “I did not change. I only grew up.” But to beat one’s self up will be infantile. We are not enemies after all except she holds ancient grudges my philosophical mind cannot fish – I will be god damned to attempt a finding; will be myopic to believe we are charged with the responsibility of holding firm precious friends from many years ago. No. There is the expectation that we be good to people and keep in touch at a phase. But life has a way of throwing you to a whole new biome to experience your second phase – will it not be puerile if I be carrying a face because we do not talk frequently anymore? You should ever wish your friends well but understand that if he does not call you any longer, and he is all up on Facebook with new buddies in his new school, he just did him. We cannot keep all right? Pa, am I right? 

Hello pa, I just realised that I am all ripe for phase two – one more year or thereabout, it will be business unusual. I used to be perturbed that you are not worried about my future. I wondered what you were seeing. No pa, not like I am scared of the prospect, maybe confused is the word. Do you see my career in your dreams? I do not know. Probably you see me doing a tap dance in some white country; or rocking the microphone like Falz despite obtaining the law degree; wait, maybe it is me flying our country’s jersey in Olympics, or being a renowned journalist in New Jersey. Maybe me just being a successful lawyer – well, since you are calm about it, I should not worry. I was discussing with Barrister Chioma in her office. A very beautiful mother of two kids with a seven years wig experience. She said I was smart, pa. Imagine. I could not suck that down my memory especially remembering the grave sins of my thoughts in the wee hours of that same day. Why will she think I am promising when I am made up of conspiracy theories that scare the shit out of me – you know pa, I had sketched a pyramid which had the Feds at the top of the food chain eating up the masses wilfully; the lies about recession; the lies they feed the media to make it look like efforts are being made to quell the attacks in Borno; the definition of politics. But pa is this not when smart is dumb? The truth that stared at my face there in her office was that your son had grown and should be wearing safety garments for the future storms and winds I imagined attacks men in this phase with assemblage of hammer, office pin, bark, and anything it could lift on its untamed movement. It was the future talk. It was the future talk even when I left her office for church when Pastor Oke talked about the coming of ages – let me be clearer. He talked about the feast of the trumpet. To attempt a neater job, he hammered on the coming of Christ and said it was a future that was near and inevitable.  So still there was a mention of future – just that he was addressing the future of the spirit man after this vanity on earth. I returned home and Omebe came around. Our gist managed to land her asking me the question of my purpose in life – what is your passion? The strongest question it appeared. The genesis of my life was unfolded by my lips with hopes I was not leaving her in the realm of bores. It was a good conversation that crept far into the night until I told her about a pyramid.
I told her that a man is traced to a family, the arrow moves up to the future, and the funeral is the bus stop. I split the middle phase into two to include “friends” and “foes”. She was lost and so was I. what was I even thinking? But then I remembered you, pa. I am still amazed how you put the family as one despite your wife giving you emotional breakdown sometimes; or when the procurer of your thorough security services at diverse beats owe fat bills you should normally use to run your personal affairs, fend for two of your grown up kids who are in the last lap of tertiary institutions, pay staff, and complete those projects we discussed about. Pa, I have not said thanks for the upbringing – that will be done in a special way. So there it was; the pyramid had “family” at the first layer because it is for a man to be born into one. Even those that were bastards or orphans grow somehow to create one for themselves. The family is the first constant thing generally. Every man is taught salient values, catered for, and is prepared for the next phase called the future. Thank God she contributed with smiles on her face. It gave the atmosphere a torch of symbiosis with tense air becoming a retreating sniffy. She told me stories of how funny it was for a man to come into her life and take the larger part of the love she was storing for her parents despite the endless love and affection parents put in breeding their offspring. She called the man the “stranger from nowhere”; it made us pause and giggle. I hope she puts the title to paper as I suggested. Indeed she got me. The family had a large role in the premier phase with the attached duty that aside providing food or shelter, there be guide on how the child should approach the next phase, the future.

The future starts with the ability to decide what you want to become with fair understanding that what you propose needs optimism upon maturing into the phase of uncertainties. Who expects me to define “future”? I hold that every man defines his future to his wishes at the beginning of the sojourn, and every man re-defines his future at the close of his future by his works or proceeds. Future is the substance that needs passion, push, and prayers to thrive – It is not in your dictionary Omebe, I know. It is either I am wrong or they are. I split this phase into two, I recall. The friends are the like minds you will meet in this phase. They are unlike the interim friends you cherish in secondary school days — they probably do not remember your name. They are capable of making you successful if you keep thinking like them; they last long and could be the next constant thing in your life to be torn off by the last phase. The foes are the constant things in this phase too. They are enemies of themselves who enjoy moving in groups looking for how to break a man who is unsure of his purpose on earth. For the love of common sense, the saying of “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are” is pretty repugnant if there is the belief that a man who picked foes as his companies have them as friends. It is correct to me, Pa, that we have the freewill to become our own foes. A group of foes are not friends but are people who enjoy one another’s mediocrity at a regular pub or someplace chilly their change can afford. Even the dictionary described friend as an ally, not an enemy. Save me the garbage that peer pressure changed him into something evil – okay scratch that a little, we can make the bastards and those who suffered bad parenting as exceptions. Can a young man who was taught good and bad by parents and common sense proceed to do grave mischief, and cry bad company? I mean. The future presents situations that could make one get tempted to break and become his own foe mourning with other foes looking for the easy way out. Friends and foes are the certainties of this phase’s uncertainties.  Oh! Confusing? Well we can look at it this other way. The future presents foes and friends to man on this long sojourn in life. Foes and friends complement each other in that the knowledge that there are persons who stay online to weigh your level of success makes you work tough to shame them – it toughens you. In the event that the foes are not persons but killer challenges, the grace to stay strong will be sung in one’s success story. The friends are both those that are pre-success story of you, or post success – only you can so choose how to rank their level of relevance in your life. This way, you need the foes to make many friends. Within the friends may be foes, and not to scare you, they could kill you. Confusing?

It is appointed every man a time to die and the death comes once, after which is rapture. Yes, the Holy Book recognizes funeral. It is always hoped that after gathering great friends and blood like Destiny, Femi, Chris, Clinton, Prince, Patrick, Martins, Itoro, Lucy, Sarah, Caleb, and other hommies, you live long enough to interact with them and jointly glorify God at the success spree in all of their testimonies. I have made friends, pa. With these ones I am ready for the future with no fears. I wish myself a long life – we all do when we think of our voyage into respective futures right? But Pastor Oke is right. The future is uncertain and the funeral can come at a time against the general rule. Omebe, do not worry, it does not affect the pyramid I am sketching before your very eyes but it is a caution that the funeral can exist before the future – God forbid. Hey uncle, you should not have left to the other side. I have enough friends from the other side but really wished you tarried with me a little while. I have not called Pius; I really have a bad record at consoling the bereaved because my heart faints all the time leaving my swollen mouth with scanty words. I pray God comforts them. You had made good money and who says phase two excludes reaping from the seeds you trained? The little ones, I pray God comforts them. 

Anyone can indeed go. The pyramid I paint is one that has the family, the future, and the funeral. But the cure to future’s uncertainness is salvation. Yes, the future is vanity even. What should be feared is the destination after the funeral. Remind me, Omebe, to paint another pyramid of afterlife. In the meantime, paint me a pyramid. 

©OKOCHA OBED