Don’t get fooled by the litigious nature of today’s topic. Frankly, we don’t like lawyers much. They tend to be an overbearing, cagey, self-infatuated, narrow-minded, briefcase slinging lot with an overblown estimation of their own relevance. Today’s post is not a free advert for lawyers, so don’t punch a hole through your screen yet—and the gods know, you have every reason to do so at the thought of those assholes. We’d sooner demand for the left eye of your only child than send your innocent psyche into the tortuous mindfuckery of a lawyer’s solicitations. And if you are any part of humanity, you should be fuming right now at that nefarious idea of having to interact with a lawyer.
But, leaving the vexatious issue of lawyers aside. There’s that whole problem of ensuring law and order in a society. In other to have an organised and functional society, some form of law is necessary. You need a system of rules that, at the very laziest, ensures that folks do not trample other folks’ right and provides a system of settling disputes—so that we won’t all resort to dragging out fans of opposing teams on the streets and slashing their throats at the end of every football match.
But such a system of rules will be ineffective if no one utilizes or implements it. And that’s what you’ll see in Nigeria today: a scenario where the freaking rules exist only as a mere shadow which we pay lip service to. The real substance of our legal system is whatever shitty action happens to be the generally acceptable standard at the moment—such as throwing tyres around people’s necks and setting them on fire, calling soldiers to kick the ass of your debtor, burning down a whole village or lying in wait for the person who insulted you on the internet and punching their face into another dimension.
Take another example: the inherited idea from the English legal system that everyone is “innocent until presumed guilty”. This optimism may work well in a society with proper police investigative techniques and sufficiently motivated law enforcement and judicial officers. But in a country where there are several loopholes for a suspect to sidestep the system, it is just more convenient for folks to stone the person to death instead of having him arrested. Now, we have no proof of our next statement, but a system of “guilty until you can prove yourself innocent” should make plenty folks happy here. Once you get arrested for any reason—you’re screwed and its up to you to unscrew yourself, which should be easy, if you’re actually innocent.
This avoidance of the judicial process is, again, not entirely your fault. Our legal system is not “ours”. Instead, it is the bastard child of the English colonists—more suited to the judicial procedures of a Kirikiri fiefdom than to the adjudicatory rules of a civilized society. And that is why some anomalies occur—such as a man going to jail with hard labour for stealing a phone while another pays a fine for defrauding the country of billions of Naira. Because, you see, when they were drawing up the criminal laws, it didn’t occur to the damned colonists that black folks might be clever enough one day to steal more money with a pen than with a machete.
And that’s why you need to take the legal system of your society more seriously—don’t be afraid to sue or be sued. Oh, of course, there’s those damned lawyers who come in and fuck up the entire process till doomsday. What with their adjournments, processes, pleadings, writs, motions, injunctions, objections, appeals, vegetables and rotten tomatoes. But, here’s the fact: lawyers and their application of law are only a fragment of society—and not greater than it. That’s why you can elect politicians into the executive and the legislature—so they can enact and execute the rules that make up the judicial system. You, as society, can change the entire legal system. You can rewrite the rules and limit—or increase—the fuckery of lawyers within the system. And the feeling of achievement you get from that alone is totally worth the effort.
And we’re absolutely not joking. We need a proper, “home grown” legal system. Law and order is too important to leave into the hands of the English system trained lawyers and judges you find around today. Few of these lawyers are interested in the betterment of the legal system, rightfully too. That’s your job—not theirs. You should be able to rewire your political mindset from the question of which candidate can arrest some specific individual to the question: “who can effect a system-wide legal reform?”
There are more important aspects to the functioning of a society than the simple arrest of corrupt officials. Any body can arrest anyone, but it is only a rational human that can create an effective system of rules for the allocation of resources and the settlement of disputes. When that system is set in place, you will not have to worry about lawyers and their headaches—you will be more concerned about the rule of law. And if you disagree with us on this, we are going to hunt you down, wait for you to step out of your door and hit you in the face with a lawyer’s briefcase.