“But, you people were ready to go on at the tribunal. You should show the same eagerness before this court,” This was the statement reportedly made by a presiding judge, Justice Moore Adumein of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, in a case pertaining to Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Senator Saraki is asking the Court of Appeal to quash his arraignment and trial for alleged false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The emotionally laced statement was apparently made by the judge as she responded to the counsel to the Federal Government who appeared uncomfortable with the speed given the case at the Appeal Court level.
On a general level, anytime signs of emotionality are allowed to show up in a judicial case, emotive characteristics can set in ranging from hastiness, astonishment, bias, manipulation, apprehensiveness, and uncertainty.
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle once stated that “passion" which refers to the effects of the present, must not be part of the law which is reason, and law should always be free from passion.
It should be noted that no one is accusing the three-person panel of the Court of Appeal, under the leadership of Justice Adumein, as being swayed by emotions or emotionality.
In a nationally toxic case like that of Senator Saraki, judicial officers like Justice Adumein should keep in mind that anything that seems to portray an emotional face or gushy statement is a bad Idea as it could backfire in unexpected ways for both the court proceedings and society.
Especially, when observers of this particular case are on alert for any unusual behaviors stemming from those judging the case.
An apparent emotional approach to a particular case, such as Senator Saraki’s case, could make observers in Nigeria believe the case is being handled dishonestly. This sense of wariness is enhanced by the knowledge that the retired President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Isa Ayo Salami was accused of judicial corruption.
An emotional stance on a case could make some persons in society believe that sentiments in matters of adjudication could exploit and pervert the course of justice.
An emotional posture on a case could make a judge subject him or herself to exploitation, deceitfulness, and intimidation, leading to an image of dishonesty.
At the time of writing this article, this case is being seen as colored with curious, unusual, pressured, and desperate shades; and this is not a good picture for our young and growing democracy.
The decision to abruptly halt the case and place it on indefinite standing indicates a worrying trend.
When President Muhammadu Buahri spoke at the opening of the 2015 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja he asserted that lawyers, judges, and magistrates all need to keep the end of justice in mind at all times.
Therefore, any sign of passionate or emotional approach to legal matters in our jurisdictional system could threaten law and order in the nation. And for those who thrive to manipulate and irritate our legal system with self-interest, dire consequences await them and the nation as a whole.
Dr. John Oshodi is a Florida-based Forensic/Clinical Psychologist, a specialist in Prison/Police/National Security matters and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association