Our Little Caesars and their political minders

Media accounts of the recent shocking episode of the bullying and intimidation of a team of NIS officers by a prominent businessman and his employees suggest that the act was as crude as it was barefaced,   One of the more disturbing things about the incident is that it appeared to matter little to the perpetrators that they were unlawfully and forcefully menacing and impeding public servants pursuing their legitimate duties as officials of the state. By disregarding the authority on which the NIS team was acting, the people who harassed, intimidated and impounded them sent a clear and unmistakable signal that they possessed the clout to fly in the face of the highest authority in the land and get away with it.

And after the state had been challenged to respond to the affront to its authority by actions that would provide reassurance that no one is above the law, it appeared to act in a manner that leaves us to wonder whether, in fact, it is not the reverse that is true, whether some amongst us are not empowered to go around ‘playing God.’

In the immediate aftermath of the incident the police, we are told, performed their duties indifferently, to say the least. Even now, almost three weeks after the occurrence they appear to be behaving with considerable dilatoriness. We are told, too, that the Board of the NIS, which is chaired by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, acted with less than the warranted haste in engaging the abused officers.

Given what we are told about the ‘connections’ of the businessman who was allegedly responsible for the intimidation and impounding of the NIS officers, this incident appears to be one of those now familiar situations in which political influence supersedes accountability under the law. These days, official assurances of equality under the law are frequently undermined by evidence to the contrary, so that we have now come to regard such ‘assurances’ as no more than intermittent official interventions that seek to provide us with a measure of comic relief.

What is also troubling is that even an occurrence as outrageous as this one and, for that matter, the failure of the authorities to throw the proverbial book at the transgressors, have attracted more-or-less muted public reaction. That, in itself is an unflattering commentary on our indifference to the wrongs committed by the seemingly politically protected Little Caesars in our society. Not only have we, it seems, resigned ourselves to such obscenities but each time they occur we unfailing tender the collective knee-jerk response that “nothing will come out of that.”

It is just this kind of response which, in effect, gives credence to the notion that might is right. In sum, it is a cynical pronouncement on our complete loss of faith in the blindness of justice, at which point we take up residence in a fool’s paradise, clad in a cloak of make-believe normalcy that cannot conceal the nakedness of the real and shameful truths that we wish away. It is an Orwellian domain from which vantage point we are reduced to protracted and meaningless discussion and debate on our dilemma; and when we emerge from our frustrating exertions we are really no better off save and except that we are perhaps possessed of a greater measure of resolve to grin and bear it.

The ruling party made a public pronouncement on the NIS incident though the significance of its pronouncement must surely be set against the fact that those who seek to flout the law without fear of consequence often do so in anticipation of its political protection. From the ruling party’s standpoint, therefore, the value of its verbal condemnation of the “incident” has to be measured against the concrete action it takes to publicly demonstrate that it provides no sanctuary for those who seek to live above the law. The same, of course, applies to the Jagdeo administration.

In this particular instance we need to remind ourselves, again, that the victims, the NIS officers, were acting as agents of the state, the very authority which, up until now, has proffered an enfeebled response to the wrongs that have been visited upon them; so that in doing so we begin to see more clearly the grotesque anomalies in the manner in which justice sometimes appears to be administered. For surely, if the state declines to sanction the perpetrators of an offence of such gravity against its own commissioned functionaries, citizens possessed of no such commission have good grounds for feeling doubly vulnerable to un-righted wrongs at the hands of our tin gods.

Nor can Dr Luncheon be unaware of the utter meaninglessness of his promise of protection for NIS officers from such occurrences in the future in the face of the extant evidence that his promise will probably not apply in instances where, numbered among the wrongdoers, are those who seem to enjoy political protection.

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