The Law is an Ass. (Or do we mean the people?)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The first time I encountered the phrase was in Primary school. That is, “the Law is an Ass”.

Perhaps, it was in Primary 3 or 4. I cannot remember.

We had some English Lesson book which had short stories. I do not recall the details of the particular story anymore (primary school was a long, long, long time ago). But there was a drawing of a donkey (colloquially referred to as “an Ass”), and there was some story of its stubbornness.


Like I said, I do not remember the exact details. Except that it was also my earliest (conscious) encounter with the use of pun.

My next memory of the phrase is from Oliver Twist, where Mr. Bumble retorts the phrase, as his response to the expectation of the Law, that his wife acts under his direction.

(Let’s not get distracted with feminist critical theories of law. Focus.)

As an adult I am now used to seeing the phrase daily used, and from practice over the years, I have come to understand the meaning behind the meaning of “the Law is an Ass”; often acted out in living colours with full dramatis personae.

You see, the law is pretty obstinate… sometimes, it is a zombie. Just as a donkey is well set in its ways (it is very difficult to make a donkey move if it does not want to move), the law is such that what is colloquially perceived as ‘justice’ to the common-eye (and in common sense) may not be what is legally obtainable. It is the rules stated AS the law that are practiced, so that what one perceives should be ‘wrong’ may not be ‘wrong’ before the law, or where ‘wrong’, may not necessarily have some ‘right’ to remedy it.

Confused much?

(My law school tuition was not free. Now you understand why the wig is white bah?)

Rephrased: What may be expected by the layman (or ‘common-sense’) as actual ‘justice’ may not be obtained in a particular circumstance, due to the provisions of the applicable law for that circumstance. Thus, the Law has been ‘animalised’ as “an Ass”… or “an Idiot” (if you may).

(Stay with me. I have a destination)

Case in point: Mr. Imanuel Ifediata, and the gospel of ‘child grooming’.

Mr. Ifediata blessed Zuckerville with his thoughts regarding his preponderance for the (far) younger versions of the fairer gender, as captured below:

To say the Nigerian internet-sphere went aflame in a frenzy would be merely understating it.

Whilst some have attempted to ‘rationalise’ his charismatic calls to “catch ‘them’ young”, majority called for his head, literally and figuratively. (But it is the figurative part I am concerned with)

Petitions have been written to the school he teaches, that he be removed, seeing as he is a potential threat to the female students in his care. (i.e. who says he is not practicing already what he preaches?)

A larger bloc have gone the extra mile in asking that he be prosecuted. But the issue that would arise will be: what crime has he committed?

One would have to compare his actions/words side-by-side the provisions of the law regarding protection of minors in Nigeria. The relevant laws to consider would probably be the Criminal Code Act of Nigeria, and (perhaps), the Child’s Rights Act.

Sadly, while Mr. Ifediata’s ephebophilia (as disclosed in his depraved statements) may be interpreted by common-sense as a self-styled confession of exploitation of minors, and/or a proposed plan for the exploitation of minors, or an incitement of the exploitation of minors by others, neither law has provisions wide enough to qualify Mr. Ifediata’s words/acts as a crime within the context of Nigerian Criminal laws. At worst, Mr. Ifediata may be regarded as being guilty of being foolish.

And even that is not a true crime.

Do not get me wrong; I am on the side of all that is good and fair. If anything, I am more perturbed that he actually has a ‘following’ attempting to rationalise these words, than at the actual words spoken.

Left to me (and doubtless, a huge number of right-thinking people) he should probably be punished with 757 frog-jumps, for the depth of unkindness and bad-faith espoused in his gift of N100 to his student.

But the law is the law, and must be followed. Absent any law, Mr. Ifediata is left free to continue preaching his gospel of child-exploitation.

Cries of “But the Law is an Ass!” is merely a quick fix… a cushion to the shock-effect of seeing a wrong ‘unrighted’.

I say: scratch the surface.

Who makes the laws?

It is our National Assembly that makes the laws.

Who constitutes our National Assembly?

It is we the people, who are the National Assembly. So it is we the People, who are THE LAW.
If the law has any inadequacies, it is we the People that are to blame.

If there is an Ass, it is we the People, and not the Law.

Laws do not exist in vacuum The Law is merely our message. We are its author.

We do not hold our representatives responsible. We do not make our demands known, and/or ensure they are met. We do not understand the power we wield. And even if we did understand, we are not interested in wielding said power.

Which is why every election year, we sell our souls and the future of our children (born and unborn) for tubers of yams, and raffia-sacks of stale cassava; to keep electing people whose major pre-occupation is enriching their personal pockets. Even as majority of Nigerians live below $1 per day.

It is as though we want to eat our cake, then blame ‘the Law’ for the digestion of the cake through our oesophagus.

But it lies in our power to change things; to right wrongs, and ensure that remedies are available for wrongful actions.

We can pass stronger laws to protect our children from would-be child predators and exploiters.

We can press on our elected Representatives to pass laws to ensure that persons in authority who seek to exploit minors, or persons who incite others to exploit minors be prosecuted. And when our elected representatives fail to meet our demands, we can ensure we vote them out, (and keep voting them out) until we find the right people who are willing to do the wishes of their constituents, and ensure that our needs are catered to, and our children well protected.


We can continue with our daily doing of nothing, except console ourselves with the description of the law as an animal. And keep eating our beans in the comfort of our homes.

After all… a girl knows nothing.

Image result for one hundred naira note

That is, until that girl is your under-aged daughter whose doe-eyed affection is ‘purchased’ with a non-polymer note, valued at less than 25 cents.



Photo Credits (In order of appearance)

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  1. Interesting...
    Mr. Ifediata is an Ass.

    1. Hmmm... nice perspective. (All pun welcomed)

  2. Good write up, I think this article should be followed up with action. We the people, of course (the writer included) can initiate a bill to the National Assembly to address this loophole in the Law! So we can "unass" the law, at least in this case. Enough is enough for all talk and complains without corresponding action!