Saturday, 17 June 2017

'Set up', the African way

Over the past few weeks I have read many stories of new disturbing development in Nigeria called 'Set Up'. I also understood that the development is also trending in Ghana. This new trend is both from the State and private individuals.

It works this way. The State, in this case, the agent of the State which is usually the police or a private individual or gangsters would pose as someone they are not to lure vulnerable others into a trap and then by blackmail, force or threat to their life or name extort money from them or even make them to face the full force of the law of the state.

Legal philosophy would not endorse this as an instrument of criminal justice. In fact, the morality of this is still debatable. As a lawyer I have always been against 'set up' and entrapment as an instrument of criminal justice. The fact is that everyone has got a weak point and to capitalise on that weak point to make money out of anyone or to put him or her into trouble is morally repugnant and ethically unacceptable. Sometimes, people wonder why there is always a sign to warn drivers of speed camera or speed limit ahead. The reason is very simple. Every good law is not there to entrap people but to educate them on the importance of obeying the law at all times.

If those in authority secretly put speed cameras on roads without warning the motorists, they would make millions in fine from that. Economically, that would make sense but legally and morally that would be repugnant and unacceptable. The speed cameras are not there to entrap people but to guide them towards obeying the law.

In the same vein, if you are a gay man and a straight man begins to flash a big long fat dick in front of you and you fall for it, you should not be blamed. The law should be codified in such a way to punish the straight guy. In fact, here in the UK the straight man would be punished for flashing or indecent exposure. This is also the case with a lady. If she opens her vagina in front of a man and the man falls for it, the man should not be blamed. The lady should be cited for indecent exposure.

I also understand that some married men and even women also use their partners these days to entrap others. I saw a clip recently on the Internet where a married woman invited a man over to her house while the husband was lying in wait. When it was time for action the husband came out and caught the man pants down and red handed, as he was about to take advantage of his wife. In as much as what this man was about to do to someone's wife is wrong, it is also morally reprehensible, repugnant and unacceptable that he should be set up or entrapped this way. Weakness is part of human nature and if we begin to set trap for others nobody would survive?

The law should be made to be on the side of people being set up, entrapped and extorted from on daily basis. The fact that those who are being set up or entrapped maybe doing something wrong should not be a good reason for those setting them up or entrapping them to take the laws into their hands. You cannot build illegality upon illegality. In a simple term, it is not acceptable to do wrong to correct a wrong doing or to do wrong in order to achieve 'good'.

Meanwhile, looking at these three scenarios again. If you were in this victim's position, what would you do? I bet the natural instinct would surely take over. The natural instinct has nothing to do with morality. It is all about logic. For instance, when someone is hungry and sees food the logical thing would be to eat that food to survive. If you see a lady you like and she consented to sex, the logical thing to do would be to say yes and to stop if she says stop. It is simple.

Therefore, 'set up' and entrapment should not be an instrument of criminal justice and should be discouraged. In fact, it perpetuates criminal behaviour and those guilty of these should be cited for a crime instead.

All terrorists have got small balls...

All terrorists have got small balls, hands and fingers and that's where their problems, insecurities and hatreds come from. They feel so insecure that they are determined to unleash their insecurity on all of us. But, they will never succeed because what is in us is greater than what is in them. Our love, tolerance and accommodation would always lead and triumph over their hate.

Manchester, London and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland shall never be afraid or defeated. I am not quite sure you guys understand who you are messing with. Can an ant fight an elephant? A horse no matter how fast it is, can it ever outrun a car? Or can the fastest bird on earth outfly an aeroplane?

Trust me, you guys do not know who you are messing with. You guys are venturing into where angels were smart enough not to thread. You guys have learnt to fly without perching and we also have learnt to shoot without missing. We will get all of you. None of you would ever be spared. Wherever you are on the face of the earth we shall smoke you out and keep you where you belong.

We dealt with Hitler and his Nazi madness. The Battle of Britain showed our resilience and determination to kill evil and what we can do when we are pushed to the wall. What we did to the Nazis shall be a kids play compared to what we have in stock for you. Trust me, we shall get you.

Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and London and our other great institutions of higher learning is a testimony of what our brain can do and that we value knowledge, learning, dialogue and understanding to being small, close and narrow minded. We are open and welcoming to all not because we are afraid or lacking in population but because we want to make this place a place of refugee, a place of perpetual succour for all those facing persecution, injustice, torture, victimisation, degrading and inhuman treatment in any part of the world. This is why this Great and United Kingdom is forever open to all including blacks, whites, agnostics, atheists, Christians, Muslims, gays and others who need our protection. That is not being weak. Trust me, it means being civilised for a civilised man would always open his door to a man, neighbour in need or in danger. This is what makes us humans.

It is because of this that we are not only multicultural but also multilingual, metropolitan, diverse and ended up producing great scientists, solicitors, barristers, surgeons, professors, pilots, drivers, cleaners, engineers, dentists and movers and shakers of this world whose name would be remembered till eternity.

This is why you are jealous of our achievements. Why not grow your hands, fingers and balls and be men and be civilised and stop behaving like castrated clueless cows that you are! I can assure you that life will still go on and is actually still going on despite your atrocities. People are still going about their businesses, loving London and doing things they are good in doing which is loving and not hating. You will never make us to hate each other. You will never divide us. You will never tear apart this great city called London. Though you may have attacked us on London Bridge, I can assure you that London Bridge like a giant Iroko would never fall down. It will definitely outlive you. You are just nothing compared to this giant, this gigantic and monumental city called London.

Can you believe that after your attack life is still going on? Blacks and whites are still moving on. Asians and Africans are still thriving. Straight men are still talking about girls, playing rugby and wearing short pants to better expose their suntanned bodies. Gay men are still going to Kylie Minogue concerts, drinking exotic red wines and Rosie and talking about boys. Arsenal and Chelsea are still there. Manchester City and Manchester United are still standing.

But don't worry. We are coming after you.

This is Great Britain and your small balls, hands and fingers would never defeat us. We shall defeat you and obliterate you from the face of the earth! And as far as we are concerned you are just in the past and in the minority and life would definitely move on.

This is why we are a Great Britain!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Beware of the Pharisees and the Sadducees

Yesterday, while on a public transport I overheard two Africans having a discussion. The content of their discussion is not relevant here. However, the accusation leveled by one against the other merits my attention and comment. When his friend, during the course of their conversation refused to toe his line of argument, he got angry and accused him of being too westernized.

In fact, this is not the first time I have heard this type of conversation or accusation. Many times in the past, I have heard fellow Africans accuse other Africans of being too westernized as if there is anything wrong with westernization. I do not think that there is anything wrong with westernization. What I think is wrong is those accusing others of being too westernized. They are like the Pharisees and Sadducees and you must beware of them. Imagine the pot calling the kettle black!

By the way, for these Africans accusing their kinsmen of being too westernized or brainwashed with western ideas, the main question should be: who is actually more 'westernized' and 'brainwashed'? The accused or the accuser? Let us put it this way, is it the one who realized that he has been making a mistake and stopped making that mistake and reformed his views and opinions to be in line with modern thinking, discoveries and advances in science, technology and humanities or the one who refused and who had already abandoned his own religion (African Tradition Religion) to embrace a completely different religion from that of his ancestors?

How about the one who completely rejected the way his people dress (African wears) and now dresses like westerners (suit, jeans, t-shirt, tie, etc.) and even wear western perfumes like Dior, Channel, etc.? They even abandoned their traditional means of transport (walking, animals) to embrace cars and trains and live in pent houses instead of thatched houses, which are all western ideas and inventions. I thought that being anti-western in ideology, they would have preferred living on the trees, walking about naked and saying no to western benefits and inventions.

How about the man who forgot the wisdom of his people and the way they acquire these wisdoms under the tree to embrace western wisdom and education to the extent of acquiring university education up to PhD level and even using product of this way of education like mobile phones, laptops, and other computers you are using now to read this.

How about the man who travelled thousands of miles to come and live in the west forgetting his claim that his culture is more superior and full of morals compared to that of the west? What is he still doing in the west? Africa is a vast continent with huge fauna and flora. Why has he not gone back Africa to flourish and shower in that morality and wisdom? By the way, how did he come to the west? By flying like a bird, walking or swimming across rivers and oceans? He must have come here through one of those western inventions (airplane) he condemns on daily basis!

And this brings me to a very important question: since when did integration become an offence? Isn’t it a good idea to do as Romans do when in Rome? Or do you want the natives to tell us to pack our bag, book the next flight and go home and never come back? I completely support the idea of adapting to a new culture if in the first place you made a conscious decision to come and live in that culture. And this includes respecting the cultures, laws and values of your host country. If you leave Nigeria to live in Ghana, it is a moral imperative that you have to adapt to their cultures by respecting their laws and values. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating abandoning your own culture. Of course, no culture can claim to be the best. Every culture has got something good, bad and or ugly in them. However, what I am saying is that if you make a decision to leave your country to live elsewhere, you must also respect the cultures, values and laws of your host country. That is my understanding of what a decent, educated gentleman is.

It is actually for this reason that here in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in order to naturalize as a British Citizen, amongst other requirements, you must also provide evidence of proficiency in English Language by proving that you are from a majority English language country or by sitting and passing English Language to an acceptable standard for immigration purposes. You must also take and pass ‘Life in the UK’ examination. This is to ensure that you are well integrated at the end of the day.

And the moral of this short piece is that my African brothers and sisters should learn how to shut their mouth if they have nothing meaningful and useful to say. A culture rightly said that silence is golden. I am not trying to put down African culture and 'morality'. No. That is not the intention behind this piece. However, I am trying to point out that sometimes it is always good to think out of the box before talking.

The world does not begin and end in Africa. There are other continents apart from Africa. And bearing in mind that there are now close to 200 countries in the world, it is important to borrow from each other. Borrowing from others is not a sign of weakness or lack of civilization but a humble acknowledgment that the other person is doing something better than the way you are accustomed to. It is for this reason that it is said that no man is an island.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Is it fair to change the rule of a game in the middle of a game?

In December 2014, the then Secretary of State for Home Office Theresa May who is currently the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland quietly and secretly tightened up the criteria for granting British citizenship. She did that based on the recommendation of John Vine the former Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Of particular importance and relevance to this article is the section on 'good character'. There was no prior warning or announcement before this change and it might also interest you to know that no Act of Parliament ever defined the term ‘good character’. The Secretary of State for Home Office is given the discretion to define it. He can include as many things as he wishes. For instance, this new change would see things like parking fines, bad behavior of your children or dependents, not paying council tax or TV licence and many others trigger the good character test.

That rule was tightened retrospectively thereby defying the first rule in law that no law should be retrospectively enacted to catch those who committed an alleged offence when the offence in question was not even an offence when it was allegedly committed. Think of it like making a law in 2017 to punish anyone born in the last 10 years anywhere in the UK on April 21 because it was the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II. If, however a law is passed making it an offence to punish anyone who gives birth from the next 10 month and onwards (bearing in mind that pregnancy lasts for 9 months) on April 21 then that will be fair since those affected would have been given prior warning or enough notice before that law comes into effect. This is what a just law being prospective and not retrospective means.

When a law is made to be retrospective it becomes unfair, unjust and defies all rules of logic, equity, justice and fairness. This is because those who arrived before a rule or law is changed do have moral and legitimate expectation that the goal post would not be tampered with or changed to their disadvantage. Asylum seekers and refugees are good example of a group that government owes a duty of moral and legitimate expectation. Sadly, they were not exempted in this change of the rule of the game in the middle of the game. Mind you that to seek asylum in the UK you need to be already in the UK to do that and that means that most asylum seekers and refugees would need to break the UK immigration law in one way or other to do that. They would have entered clandestinely and if this were the case they would not meet the 'good character' test. Bear in mind that UK does not allow asylum seekers to seek asylum in any of their embassy or high commission anywhere in the world. It must be done on arrival in the UK.

As Secretary of State for Home Office Theresa May threw caution to the wind and widened the definition of ‘good character’ without making any exception for these asylum seekers and refugees. To be specific, a number of undesirable behaviours were added to the list of disqualifying behaviours including illegal entry, assisting illegal migration and evasion of immigration.

According to the Home Office Guidance accompanying this change: 'In circumstances where an applicant entered the UK illegally, an application for citizenship should normally be refused for a period of 10 years from the date of entry, if it is known. If it is not known, the period of 10 years starts from the date on which the person first brought themselves to or came to the attention of the Home Office’. 

These changes seem to have been made quietly on December 11, 2014 and many people were caught unawares. Even as I am writing, many people are still not even aware of this change of the rule of the game. Sadly, these changes would prevent almost all recognized refugees from qualifying for British citizenship for at least 10 years from the date their claim was finally accepted as opposed to the previous 5+1 rule which is five years of Limited Leave to Remain followed by one year of indefinite Leave to Remain after which the applicant is entitled to apply for naturalization so far he or she has no serious criminal records. Under this old rule whatever happened before the last six years is usually disregarded. Under the new rule, it is now the last 10 years.

The new rule is therefore not just very harsh, unfair and evil but a clear violation of UKs obligation towards the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. By 1951 Geneva Convention, the United Kingdom agreed not to punish those who entered the territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland illegally to seek asylum because their life was in danger. The UK also agreed to facilitate their integration and naturalization without unnecessary burdens. I have therefore no doubt that the United Kingdom is clearly acting in breach of Articles 31 and 34 of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

But the most painful part is that most applicants do not know about this rule. There was no publicity or prior warning before the rule was changed.  Most of the applicants who have stayed in the UK for the required 6 years have gone on to apply for naturalization only to have their application rejected on 'good character' ground and thereby loosing their £1236 application fee, which the Home Office under Theresa May made non-refundable. Actually, they are only refunded £80 citizenship ceremony fee back.

For most of these asylum seekers and refugees, this is a month or even two to three months wages. It defies every logic that asylum seekers and refugees whose life were in danger and therefore had to break the UK Immigration Laws to seek asylum are being treated as a source of income for the government. But what type of application in 2017 would take such amount of money to process? The fact is that this rule is not fair and taking these helpless peoples money is evil that any civilized society cannot condone. Publicizing this change before it takes effect would have been better and refunding them at least £1000 would not be a bad idea either if the government must carry on with the rule change.  But taking the whole money and refunding them only £80 is not my understanding of a fair and just society.