Yesterday, someone posted on DPA wall the following:

?Hahaha, rumor mongers are at it again. A lawyer friend of mine who knows that I am an advocate called me few minutes ago and told me that our own Emeka Ugwuonye is in prison in US as he is talking to me for fraud. Emeka comment an hr ago, maybe 4rm prison.?

The person that posted this, not the stupid lawyer friend of hers, is a good friend of mine. She later called me on the phone. I didn?t pick the call. She sent me an inbox telling me that she called my number. I responded to the inbox telling her that in the jail where I am, they allow us only Facebook, but not phone calls. Well, she is my friend and I am sure she laughed over it. (I just didn?t recognize her number).

But the post has generated a number of comments. The first reflected my curiosity. I have always known that legal education in Nigeria suffered incredible amount of set back in this country over the years. And most of the people who were trained as lawyers are no better than traders in Alaba International Market. This is serious: some of our lawyers will not be able to match these traders in terms of analytical thinking. Indeed, some lawyers, the very worst of them, are dangerous to themselves. Their thought process is far more dangerous than that of the witch-doctor they portray in the Nollywood movies. So, this lawyer is not really so strange. He reflects the crisis I have seen in our legal education, which is why I am investing in that sector seriously. We really have to retrain most of our lawyers, even some of the SANs in order to bring them to minimum standards of the skill set. Those of you who saw a video of the Police training college and screamed should know more about the Nigerian law schools, and they would faint.

But seriously, I began to think about it. This story of me being in jail is really true, at least halfway. I am in jail. So, I wrote the following comment to this post:

?Okay, let’s talk about my life in jail. The fact is that I am in jail. It is true I am in jail. The only difference is that I am not in an American jail. I am in a big mass jail called Lagos or Nigeria.

?Think about it. Is Lagos not a jail? Is Nigeria not a jail? One factor that distinguishes jail above others is that there is the lack of freedom. How much freedom do you have in this country? Can you move about at night? I can leave New York by?1:00am?and drive all the way to Washington and get to Washington by?5:00am, and not a single police checkpoint. That is freedom. Do you have such freedom in this country? No, you don’t.

?In America, I can just put on my jeans and walk right to the gate of the White House and even hold the see-through fence, a few meters to the President’s living room. That is freedom. Do you have it in this country? No, you don?t. Rather, 10 miles to the Aso Rock, soldiers would begin to search you, beat you with kobo, threatening to shoot you if you moved. Is that freedom? No! You live in a giant jailhouse called Nigeria.

?In America, I can see a police officer anywhere and chat him up. If my car breaks down on the road, the state trooper would help me. That is freedom. Do you have that in Nigeria? No. The Nigerian police would demand N25k from you. And if you don?t pay, he could frame you up for armed robbery.

?Now it is getting worse. Apart from all the other signs of lack of freedom, you could be deported from one part of Nigeria to another. In America before they deport you, they would give you a trial and due process called ?removal proceedings?. If they other you deported after such trial, they would still allow you to leave voluntarily. But now in Lagos at least, you could be whisked off the street and be deported on a bus to ?your place?. Is that freedom? No, that is jailhouse stuff.

?Tell me any true freedom people have in Nigeria, apart from freedom to be wicked and mean spirited and to backbite, and plot evil for others, etc. Even religious freedom in Nigeria takes mostly the wicked form of invoking the holy ghost fire against your neighbors, etc.

?There is no freedom here, really. So, in so far as I am here, I am in jail.?

Every house in Nigeria is a prison. If you doubt it, look at the barbwires and high walls and light beams, all next to a bad street that is flooded after every slight rain and potholed every where. I was traveling to the Federal High Court in Ikoyi recently. I saw a big compound with very high walls and dangerous barbawires. And I thought that was the Ikoyi Prisons. But my driver told me no: it was some big man?s house. But that was a prison indeed. So, I am in a prison, really. Each time I land in Nigeria, I am in prison. So, it is not rumor.

My goal now is to plan a jailbreak to get us out of this jailhouse. When the people of Israel were in Egypt under the regimes of the Pharaohs, they were not free. They were in jail there. The whole land of Egypt was jail land for them. When the people of South Africa lived under Apartheid, they were in jail. And they had to get out. When people find themselves in jail due to the massive deprivation of freedom by unjust rule, they must try to break out.

Make no mistake about it. Today in Nigeria, we are all in jail. If you think this is not true, try to driver by road from Lagos to Benin. You will go through more check points than prisoners go through when they move from one part of the prison to another. If you think this not true, try to leave Lagos on your way to Benin by?6pm, and see if you would not be dead on your way. If you think this is not true, try to question a Nigerian policeman or a soldier if he stops you on the way.

Yes, I am in jail and I realize it. The question is whether you have realized the truth, that we all are in this jail together and that we must plan a jailbreak.


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