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The Oracle: Critiquing Judges and Judgments: The Dividing Line (Pt. 3)



By Mike Ozekhome


In the last part of this intervention, we dealt with the following sub-topics: Self-Criticism by the Supreme Court; Legal and Contextual Frameworks (how Judges are gagged by the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers; Laws prohibiting attacks on Judges and Appraising Relevant Laws and the Code of Conduct. In this part, we shall explore the following themes: Foreign Positions on Critiquing Judges focusing on the Unites States of America. Please read on.



Going further afield, in the United States, (one of the oldest and largest democracies in the world), the situation is not much different from the above. Judgments and even judges do come under constant attack. I do not however subscribe to this. George W. Alger, writing over a century ago (in 1911) opined that “There exists today, no doubt a wholesome public opinion which protects our courts generally from the vilification and coarse libeling to which our legislative and executive officers are constantly exposed. To a certain extent, partisan platforms which protest against attacks upon the courts are healthy expressions of this public opinion. It is an encouraging feature of our democracy that at least in our attitude toward the courts, we have by general consent, decided to be civil. It is an attitude which today protects our courts from that criticism, unlimited either as to form or substance, which relentlessly pursues prominent members of co-ordinate branches of our government. It is a comparatively modern development of democracy”.

“This traditional American attitude to Judges and judgments appear to have shifted, to the extent, that over a century later, precisely in 2018, the Brennan Center for Justice, reacting to former President Trump’s criticism of Federal Judges, posited that: “Judicial rulings are criticized all the time and by all manner of people… indeed, past presidents have regularly complained about the court. This is as it should be. Judges aren’t immune from printed criticism. Like it or not, they are part of our political system. Their decisions can impact everything from how we fight terrorism to whom has the right to marry. Federal Judges in particular, have tremendous power – which they get to keep for life. That remarkable level of authority does not come with the right to never have one’s sensibilities offended by disparaging remarks”. The Centre then posted the question and answer: “ But, where, exactly, should we draw the line on criticism of the courts? Historical practice and some reflection about the role of courts in our constitutional system suggest several considerations. First, while it is quite common for officials to complain about an adverse ruling in the modern ara, it has never been considered appropriate to defy the ruling- or otherwise seek to undermine the court’s authority… Second, there is a difference between criticizing a ruling and personally attacking the Judge… of course. “Judges do sometimes behave illegally or unethically, in which case, personal criticism is fair, provided it has some actual basis. Other Judges have an off-bench habit of wading into political or other public debates… under these circumstances,(such Judges) open (themselves) up to return fire… Regardless, it is one thing to respond to a Judges political criticism and quite another to repeatedly question the personal integrity of Judges based solely on disagreement with their rulings. “There is also a difference between expressing disagreement after the fact and trying to pressure a judge to influence future decisions… more serious bullying- such a threatening impeachment for unpopular rulings – is clearing over the line. Third, it also matters who the Judge is U.S. Supreme Court Justices are at the top of the Federal judiciary, set binding precedents for the nation and are some of the most powerful people in the country. In contrast, trial Judges are closer to private citizens and lack the power, prominence and security details of members of the High Court. “They are less likely to experience an errant tweet as far more threatening than would a member of the Supreme Court. Finally, not all critics are the same. The President has a unique platform and with that comes unique responsibility. Personal attacks by the President can pose real safety risks, while even careless statements that suggest a court’s ruling should not be respected can do great harm to our system of government.” The message of the Brennan Center is clear: Go after the message; not the messenger. To drive this point home, Rule 30 and 31(1&2) provide that “a lawyer is an officer of the court; accordingly, he shall not do any act or conduct himself in any manner that may obstruct, delay or adversely affect the administration of justice”; “a lawyer shall always treat the court with respect, dignity and honour”; and also that “where the lawyer has a proper ground for complaint against a judicial officer, he shall make his complaint to the appropriate authorities.”
This is the way to go- a lawyer should make his “complaint to the appropriate authorities”. These authorities, it is respectfully submitted, refer to appealing such judgements to higher courts; asking for revision of such judgements as permitted by law; or channeling such complaints to an appropriate body such as the NJC. They do not include- and I emphasise this- personal media attacks on the very Judges that delivered the judgements. Such a step is ignoble, contemptible and dishonourable, especially considering the fact that such Judges are not in a position to reply, or defend themselves. Such must be avoided.

George Alger (“Criticising the Courts”), opines that in the U.S: “There exists today, a wholesome public opinion which protects our courts generally from vilification and coarse libeling to which our legislative and executive officers are constantly exposed. To a certain extend; party platforms which protest against attacks upon the courts are health expressions of this public opinion. It is an encouraging feature of our democracy that at least in our attitude towards the courts, we have, by general consent, decided to be civil. It is an attitude which today protects our courts from that criticism, unlimited either as to form a substance, which relentlessly pursues prominent members of coordinate branches of our government. It is a comparatively modern development of democracy. “The distinction made between the courts and other executive and legislative officers as to the form of criticism applicable to them did not exist at the time our government was founded, nor in the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of the Supreme Court. It was recognised neither by the public, nor by the great statesmen of the past” (Underline supplied for emphasis).


It has been common place for Judges to be subjected to virulent and intemperate criticisms for doing their work. Teddy Roosevelt once said of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “I couldn’t carve out of a banana a Judge with more backbone than that”. Apparently, trying to pressure the Supreme Courts to influence a future decision, President Barrack Obama once raised Sime eyebrows when he weighed in concerning the Affordable Care Act litigation while it was still pending before the Supreme Court. Chief Justice of the US, John Roberts, in an appearance at a judicial conference in Colorado, could not understand why the public has turned against the US apex court. Hear him:“So obviously people can say what they want, and they are certainly free to criticise the Supreme Court and if they want to say that it’s legitimacy is in question, they are free to do so…. but I don’t understand the connection between opinions that people disagree with and the legitimacy of the court.” It appears that unknown to Justice Roberts, the people are not questioning the court’s legitimacy simply because they disagree with opinions of the Supreme Court, but because they are worried that the Justices have broken from their usual adherence to precedent, offered dubious rationales and voted in what appears to be partisan lockstep. Polls had thus shown increased political polarisation in responses to the Supreme Court.

The most consequential rulings by the Republican-appointed majority favour longstanding GOP priorities. For example, on 24th June, 2020, the US Supreme Court overturned the 50 year old decision in Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973). This created earth-quaking societal changes throughout America. The landmark decision dismantled 50 years of legal protection for abortion as a federal right and paved way for individual states to curtail or ban outright abortion rights. This judgement was made possible only because of the addition, in 2020, of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the third appointee of former GOP President, Donald Trump. Trump had vowed to name only Supreme Justices who would reverse the 1973 precedent anchored on the Fourteenth Amendment, to the effect that a person may choose to have an abortion until a foetus becomes viable. This was based on the individual’s right to privacy. Roberta had dissented from the opinion overturning Roe; although he voted with the conservative majority to uphold the disputed Mississippi ban on abortions just after only 15 weeks. Roberts critiqued that the June decision amounted to “a serious jolt to the legal system”.

The Justices who dissented from Roe v Wade have since appeared at some events and criticised the decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation (No 19; decided on 24th June, 2022) 597 US (2022). At a 9th US Circuit Judicial conference in Big Sky, Montana, (broadcast on C-SPAN), liberal Justice Elena Kagan implicitly criticised the Dobbs decision. She observed that the court loses public trust when it discards precedent. She maintained that the court cannot presume that people will hold it in high regard; but rather, that a court must earn and retain its legitimacy “by acting like a court; by doing the kinds of things that do not seek to people as political or partisan.” She then warned, “if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy.”Justice Kagan also; at a live-streamed appearance, from the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in New York, struck a similar note, when she said: I think Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves- undermine their legitimacy- when they don’t act so much like courts and when they don’t do things that recognisably law and when they instead stray into places where it looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences”.

Chief Justice Roberts, a 2005 appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, has since been busy trenchantly sending off public disaffection and defending the court’ a legitimacy and the entire Judiciary’s integrity. That was why in November 2018, in response to Trump’s denigration of a Judge as an “Obama Judge”, Justice Roberts fired back, “We do not have Obama Judges or Trump Judges, Bush Judges or Clinton Judges.” (To be continued).


“My mind don begin tell me say na INEC mark my WAEC, becos no be wetin I write I finally get”. –Anonymous.


“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots”. (Frank A. Clark).

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Adding Value

Adding Value: Of Fear and Faith by Henry Ukazu




Dear Destiny Friends,

Fear and faith are two great rivals in the affairs of man. Where one is found, the other takes a leave. They can either make or mar any progressive being, and anybody who truly wants to succeed must know how to activate and control the inherent powers of these two great forces.

According to Dr. Yomi Garnett, “viewed from a spiritual perspective, fear and faith can be said to be opposites…and what each of them brings to our life is also opposites. Fear can lead to failure, while faith will lead to conquest”.

Question: Do you want to live in fear, or would you like to be associated with a conquered fellow?

One of the major killers of vision is fear,  and one of the enablers of life is faith. When one is possessed with the spirit of fear, it will be difficult for that person to achieve their heart desires, but when one’s spirit is activated with the right amount of faith, even the highest fear will fade out.

One may be wondering, how fear and faith can be positively activated to attract success, ab at the same time be the destruction of man, if not properly managed.

What actually inspires a success-oriented mind? Obviously, several things activate one’s mind. To a lot of people, their greatest fears in life is poverty. These sets of people abhor being poor can mitigate their success in life, and as such they put in all their efforts to succeed.

To some, their greatest fear in life is failure. They can’t imagine the shame and defeat that come with failure, and as such they put in their best in whatever productive work they engage in.

Wen fear becomes extrem, it turns to phobia and dreaded. It’s instructive to note that some people have the phobia of height and flying. Some others have the phobia of pregnancy, traveling on water, approaching, or talking to people due to rejection, making mistakes, threading on new ground, among others.

To conquer this fear however, one needs to activate the inherent power of faith. Faith is the belief in what is not seen but hoped for. Any creative mind that wants to succeed in life must have faith not only in themselves, but in their businesses, academics, personal and professional developmental endeavours.

No great person has ever succeeded in life without faith. They believed in the possibility of their business even when there’s little or no hope of survival. They dared to succeed.

In contrast, fear has been th singular reason for most of the failures men have recorded. Some people even give up before they begin their project because of lack confidence and hope.

In some cases, this fear is projected by friends, family members, mentors or even trusted persons who don’t really know or understand what the person is working on. They just simply believe the project is bound to fail based on the prevailing circumstances or challenges surrounding the person or business.

This is how to activate and stimulate the subconscious and inherent power of faith. Imagine as a young man, you have interest in a lady, but you are wondering how to approach her considering her perceived response. It is not out of place to have a perception of the kind of respinse expected, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

One of the best things the guy can do is to dare to succeed by reaching out to the lady. In the worst-case scenario, the lady might say no. In that case, the man will be satisfied he tried his best because the worst feelings to have in life is the feeling of regret.

Alternatively, the lady might like the guy and just play to the gallery just to gauge the man’s intent and seriousness. If the latter is true, the man is deemed lucky for daring to ask.

As a student, business owner, parent, teacher, government official, or pastor just to name a few; if you have a project or task in mind, don’t allow the fear of failure, disappointment or obstacles to weigh you down, look into the future with bold eyes, and with the mindset of faith in the impossible.

In conclusion, fear and faith are two necessary criteria needed in the journey of life. The ability to nurture both will go a long way in shaping not only our personal lives, but also our professional lives.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via

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Voice of Emancipation: Leadership with Compassion




By Kayode Emola

One of any government’s key roles is protecting the lives and properties of their electorate – a function which seems to be lacking in Nigeria’s leadership. It would appear that the Nigerian government has been, at best, absent in the large majority of Nigerians’ daily lives. Many were hoping that the election of Bola Tinubu as president would bring about positive change; but there seems to be little evidence of this so far.

The problem with the Nigerian system is caused in part by the lackadaisical attitude held by the people regarding their own welfare and the government’s absenteeism. Since the 1970s, successive leaderships in Nigeria have gradually eroded the welfare subsidy without any outcry from the people.

First, the Nigerian government stopped free food to school children, but no one objected. Then they stopped paying training teachers their monthly stipend, but no one objected. They started introducing school fees in tertiary institutions, and similarly removed many other subsidies, and yet our people remained silent.

The silence of our people permitted successive governments to continue removing any and all forms of welfare in existence. Included among these was the progressive selling of government properties until there was nothing left except the petroleum subsidy. Tinubu removed this last remaining subsidy early in his term, but its removal has not translated into the promised savings for the government, who is set to borrow another ₦2.5 trillion through bonds from the market.

The northern leaders are keenly aware of the dire situation of Nigeria and exploited it to their advantage during their time in government. Manipulating the currency enabled the creation of jobs for their racketeers, hence the need to constantly have a parallel currency market in the country. They have used this system to amass vast wealth both for themselves and their cronies during the decades when they were in power.

The currency market provided a means for them to rapidly generate revenue without having to manufacture anything. Through their access to the Nigerian treasury, they could obtain hard currencies – e.g. dollars – for cheap government prices, which they then sold at a profit to a multitude of buyers who needed these currencies to conduct their international business. This chicanery was enjoyed by many northerners selling currency for a living within the bureau de change industry.

When President Obasanjo came into power in 1999, he stopped this practice and floated the naira. This caused the currency to initially lose value against major currencies, but its value quickly steadied. For example, during the Abacha years the government rate stood at $1 to ₦22 and the parallel market was $1 to ₦88. When Obasanjo became president and the currency was floated, it rapidly rose until it peaked at $1 to ₦135 in 2005, but then remained stable at $1 to ₦120-₦130 until he left power in 2007.

The next president, the late Yar’Adua, reintroduced the parallel market upon taking office. Fast forward to 2023, upon Buhari’s exit the official government rate was $1 to ₦460, whilst the parallel market was exchanging at $1 to ₦763. This caused the currency manipulators, mainly comprising of northern racketeers, to benefit massively.

When Bola Tinubu became President of Nigeria, he announced his intention to create policies that would generate money for the national treasury. The only means of accomplishing this were either to raise taxes or remove subsidy. With nothing else remaining, he decided to remove the petroleum subsidy and float the naira.

Floating the naira was meant to benefit the people but, as it turns out, it has had precisely the opposite effect. The currency is on a free-fall to oblivion, with the current exchange rate at $1 to ₦1,515 and still rising. Aside from Venezuela and Zimbabwe who experienced dramatic declines in their economy due to sanctions imposed by America, never in my lifetime have I seen this degree of economic decline over such a short time.

All this demonstrates the abject lack of compassion in the successive governments’ leadership. They have taken and taken from the people until there is nothing left. It is only their very lives that the people have remaining, and, if care is not taken, the leaders will start taking these next. Already, the economic hardship is causing people to go days without food, as it is impossible to make enough income to meet the high cost of living.

The simultaneous removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the naira has generated sufficiently huge shock waves that even the government is feeling the pinch. The Nigerian Customs Service recently announced that it cannot fix the cost of clearing goods and would instead have to convert their price with the prevailing exchange rate of the day. This shows that even the government is now indentured to currencies like the dollar to set the benchmark value of goods and services in the country. This situation is capable of inflicting untold hardship on the people.

If only the leadership in Nigeria cared about the people that they govern, life would have been very different for both the general populace and those in power. Instead, the absence of compassionate leadership has brought the country to a position where the only viable option is to wind down this country and allow the indigenous nationalities within Nigeria to independently go and develop their lands and people. If the current president truly cares, this would be the best gift that he could give to Nigerians.

Anybody who thinks that Nigeria can be fixed is still living in a fool’s paradise. President Tinubu worked for over 20 years to become President, promising heaven and earth with the hope of changing Nigeria for good but as it stands, he is making Nigeria even worse by the day. Every day that the Nigerian government remains is another day of increasing pain for the people.

The better option is that we hold a sovereign national conference, with no holds barred, on how to effect a peaceful separation. It is clear that Nigeria is living on borrowed time and, if care is not taken, the low-level rumblings of chaos may escalate, with mass protests on the streets and the loss of many lives. We would be better to quickly tackle this situation by dialogue rather than allow a disorderly separation.

I hope those in Aso rock are listening to the cries on the streets, for if trouble were to break out in Nigeria today, there will be no place for them to hide. If they doubt this, they can ask the Rajapaksa family in Sri Lanka who, in 2022 ,when the presidential palace was invaded by angry mobs, could not find a plane to escape from the country. When there is nothing left to take from the people other than their very existence, then those people have nothing holding them back from full scale riot, as they have literally nothing else left to lose. This is a very dangerous position for those in leadership to put themselves into. The bottom line is that Nigeria is beyond repair, and it is time to wind it down peaceably to prevent any further loss of life, should the alternative route be taken.

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The Oracle: Harnessing the Potentials of Nigerian Intellectuals with Disability…(Pt.1)




…for Positive Contributions to the Government

By Mike Ozekhome


There is no doubt that persons with disabilities have often been disadvantaged and have suffered some forms of discrimination at one time, or the other, in the society. Some of the movers and shakers of this world, were disabled intellectuals who made contributions of gargantuan proportion to the advancement of civilisation and yet, have been relegated to the background as if being disabled equates to lack of potentials. In this paper, we shall briefly discuss ways to harness the potentials of persons with disability both at home and abroad for purposes of national development. Before then, it is apposite to examine the meaning of disability.


According to Wikipedia, Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person’s lifetime. “Disabilities” is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions (World Health Organisation: Disabilities. Available at: Accessed 15/12/15). Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus, disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.

Individuals may also qualify as disabled if they have had an impairment in the past or are seen as disabled based on a personal or group standard or norm. Such impairments may include physical, sensory, and cognitive or developmental disabilities. Mental disorders (also known as psychiatric or psychosocial disability) and various types of chronic disease may also qualify as disabilities (DisabledWorld. Disability: Benefits, Facts & Resources for Persons with Disabilities. Available at: Accessed 15/12/15).

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), one out of every seven people in the world—or some 1 billion people—has a disability. Between 785 and 975 million of them are estimated to be of working age, but most do not work. While many are successfully employed and fully integrated into society, as a group, persons with disabilities often face disproportionate poverty and unemployment (ILO, Inclusion of persons with disabilities. Available at:–en/index.htm Accessed 15/12/15). Acknowledging the fact that persons with disabilities are imbued with vast and sometimes untapped) potentials, the World health Organisation made the appeal that governments should step up efforts to enable access to mainstream services and to invest in specialized programmes to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities. (World Health Organisation: New world report shows more than 1 billion people with disabilities face substantial barriers in their daily lives. Available at:
In order to effectively discuss the potentials of disabled intellectuals to nation-building, let us consider the barriers and obstacles which the society has advertently or inadvertently, erected on the paths of disabled persons.


Societal stereotyping of persons with disabilities is the most egregious barrier suffered daily by disabled persons. They are made the scum of the earth, rejected, overlooked, dejected and relegated by the society of which they are part of. Because of such prevailing societal mindset, it is more difficult to get employed, have a carrier, get married, or even get loved as a person with disability.

Denial of access to equal opportunity, integration and self-representation through the lack of appropriate resources which is the result of bad and uninformed planning. This is also as a result of non-communication – verbal and non-verbal-as well as written, e.g. no effort is made to communicate with people who are blind, or whose hearing or speech is impaired or is severely disabled.

The lack of accessible public transport is perhaps, one highly discriminating barrier persons with disabilities daily confront. Without this resource, they are forced to see the world from their windows or in more fortunate cases, their street. They are restricted, relegated and handicapped in movement. The majority of people with disabilities cannot afford their own transport due to the inadequate social securities and the lack of employment opportunities.

The lack of physical access to the built environment is another hurdle a physically challenged person has to surmount. The way houses, institutions and offices are built with no provision or considerations for disabled persons are alarming. How will disabled persons gain equal opportunity, realize integration and attain self-representation if they cannot get into educational and other institutions, libraries, places of recreation, churches, mosques, malls, in fact most places?


People with disabilities have the skills to pursue meaningful careers and play an important role in any country’s educational and economic success. In fact, experience with disability can offer a competitive edge when it comes to work or nation building. Richard Okoro Eweka, properly captured the great potentials of person with disabilities when he wrote thus:
“Despite the cruelty fate has brought their way, people living with disabilities have proven over the years that there is ability in every disability. They are not saying it to keep faith alive or for us to read to be motivated, but have been able to show it in different ways that they can achieve and attain any desired goal in life that they set for themselves irrespective of the state of deformity. They all have several evidence to show for their determination to succeed and have attained greater height than those without disabilities. The evidence of their successes have further convinced us that they are gifted people just like every other able- bodied men and women around. They have shown the world that disability in any form is an open invitation to take the world by surprise and that they are not made to beg. Some physically challenged persons in our society have come out stronger than the able people in their chosen career. Some have become entrepreneurs and employers of labour despite their disabilities. Some others have become preachers of the word of God, given hope to the hopeless in the society and the world at large. Some others have found strength in singing to lift the soul of those that have lost hope in themselves or those who are distressed with the challenges of life”. (Richard Okoro Eweka, ‘Harnessing the Ability in Disability’. The Nigerian Observer of 3rd July, 2014).

The protection guaranteed in Human rights treaties, and grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, should apply to all. Persons with disabilities have, however, remained largely ‘invisible’, often side-lined in the rights debate and unable to enjoy the full range of human rights.


In recent years, there has been a revolutionary change in approach, globally, to close the protection gap and ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same standards of equality, rights and dignity as everyone else. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006 and entered into force in 2008, signalled a ‘paradigm shift’ from traditional charity-oriented, medical-based approaches to disability to one based on human rights. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said, “The celebration of diversity and the empowerment of the individual are essential human rights messages. The Convention embodies and clearly conveys these messages by envisaging a fully active role in society for person with disabilities.” (Statement by Ms. Louise Arbour UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of the 8th Session of the Human Rights Council – Celebration of the entry into force of the Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol – See more at:


“Recognizing and respecting differences in others, and treating everyone like you want them to treat you, will help make our world a better place for everyone”. (Kim Peek).

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