Abstract

Nigerian literature has, over the years, reflected different aspects of the law. Existing studies on the law in Nigerian literary scholarship have focused on morality, crime and punishment, with little attention given to socio-political failings, and representamina (words and actions) which are agents contributing to violations of the law. Hence, this study examines the literary representations of contravention of law in Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption. This study applies aspects of the Postmodernist and Peircean Semiotic theories to account for characters’ defiant words and actions which breach the law. In the text, most of the characters subvert, and defamiliarise actions governed by law through their words and actions and often suffer quandary and paranoia in expressing fears of the unknown. With their naive followership, these common characters become victims of the depraved oligarchy. Elitist characters whose duty it is to ordinarily make laws, interpret them and enforce them are presented as agents of the contravention of the law. They break the law with impunity and lure innocent characters like Aloho to follow in their deviant footsteps. Through his use of satire, the playwright foregrounds this misdemeanour, advocates obedience to the law and cautions against iconoclastic attitudes which are capable of compromising the rule of law. Keywords: Literary Representation, Contravention, Obedience, Lawlessness, Violative Representamina
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Violative Representamina in Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of
Corruption
Gabriel Kosiso Okonkwo
Department of English,
University of Ibadan.
and
Dele Maxwell Ugwanyi
Department of English and Literary Studies.
Enugu State University of Science and Technology
Enugu, Nigeria.
Abstract
Nigerian literature has, over the years, reflected different aspects of the law. Existing studies
on the law in Nigerian literary scholarship have focused on morality, crime and punishment,
with little attention given to socio-political failings, and representamina (words and actions)
which are agents contributing to violations of the law. Hence, this study examines the literary
representations of contravention of law in Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption. This
study applies aspects of the Postmodernist and Peircean Semiotic theories to account for
characters’ defiant words and actions which breach the law. In the text, most of the
characters subvert, and defamiliarise actions governed by law through their words and
actions and often suffer quandary and paranoia in expressing fears of the unknown. With
their naive followership, these common characters become victims of the depraved oligarchy.
Elitist characters whose duty it is to ordinarily make laws, interpret them and enforce them
are presented as agents of the contravention of the law. They break the law with impunity
and lure innocent characters like Aloho to follow in their deviant footsteps. Through his use of
satire, the playwright foregrounds this misdemeanour, advocates obedience to the law and
cautions against iconoclastic attitudes which are capable of compromising the rule of law.
Keywords: Literary Representation, Contravention, Obedience, Lawlessness, Violative
Representamina
Background to the Study
Nigerian written literature has, in the past few decades, intertwined with law and its
methods. Nigerian writers engage the law in interrogating historical archetypes,
behavioural dispositions, psychological idiosyncrasies and cultural values which have
become antipathetic and defiant to accepted moral values. Since her political creation in
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1914, the Nigerian nation has struggled with series of socio-political, ethnic, cultural and
religious challenges, arguably, as a result of her diversity. Notable among these difficulties
are her constitution drafting crises, fight for independence, militarisation of government,
civil war, neo-colonial disillusionment, bloody coup d’état, financial embezzlement,
corruption, rape, battery and assault, prevalence of stereotypes, cultism, brain drain,
nepotism, terrorism, tribalism and the like. All of these and many others have collectively
become the Nigerian experience. The literariness of Nigerian literature therefore cannot be
divorced from its tie to these motifs which are reflections and refractions of attitudes
towards the law in the Nigerian society.
In the words of Ayo Kehinde (2008:334) “it is assumed that literary texts are a valuable
locus for studying the interplay of arts and politics; literary works offer an interrogative
epic of Nigeria’s political history over the past 46 years.” It is in this sense and critical poise
that Nigerian literature acquires its Nigerianness; that definiteness that defines what can
be called Nigerian literary art. Kehinde (2008) further argues that Nigerian writers have
always found the informing vision of their creativity bound by the socio-political
experiences of the nation, which their works both reflect and refract”(334). Hence
Nigerian literature which is a sub-set of the African literature can be said to be a utilitarian
literature. Its social significance is seen in its reflective and refractive nature while its
literary elegance and character are conspicuous in its use of satire and parody. Allwell
Abalogu Onukaogu and Ezechi Onyerionwu (2009) corroborate this view:
Such gory experiences as the slave-trade, the colonial domination,
the disappointing post-independence leadership, the carnage of the
civil war, military dictatorship and general socio-political anomie,
can be said to provide a rough and chequered definition of the
Nigerian socio historical experience which has naturally given birth
to a national literature of same complexion (57).
Nigerian writers have been generous and patriotic, albeit reactionary, in addressing some
of these issues. Their aim has been to enlighten the average Nigerian and perhaps expose
him/her to pivotal perspectives to Nigerian problems which have continued to wax as a
result of the infraction of law. Perhaps, one of Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s great
misfortunes is the general belief that its people had no culture before the coming of the
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colonialists a situation Emenyonu (1991:iv) describes as “part of the general
misconceptions created by colonialism about Africa.” Many Africans accepted this
Eurocentric narrative about themselves thereby giving room for disillusionment which
trickles negatively as an attitude towards the law. This double-self which Clyman (2017:1)
calls “fractured consciousness” and also resonated by Turner (1997:108) as “split
personality” creates in the Nigerian or African fondness for contravention, a hybrid self that
lacks value for local contents.
Of Law and Corruption: The Legal Justice
The title of Frank Ogodo Ogbeche’s play, Harvest of Corruption, is not just a violative
representamen but also a direct consequence of the infraction of law. Laws are objectively
made to curb corruption but when corruption becomes the order of the day in any society,
then the law can be said to be infringed upon. Harvest of Corruption is one of the plays
written by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche, a Nigeria-based playwright. The play tells the story of
Aloho, a young Nigerian female graduate, who is not only desperately looking for a job but
is also ready to sacrifice her long nurtured moral and legal values for same.
Ogbeche’s Harvest of Corruption succinctly and systematically examines the consequences
of the violation of law. He identifies corruption, desperation, despair, stubbornness and
nonchalance as some of the direct consequences of postmodernist experiences. The
playwright paints a picture of the natural law in Aloho’s knowledge of God and her friend,
Ogeyi, who is a foil to her. Aloho laments the seeming inability of the law to save her from
her ordeal of joblessness despite her faithfulness to its principles “You? Work here? What
on earth is happening to me? (She looks upward, hands skyward.) God in heaven what have
I done wrong? Why is it that those who try to serve you never get it easy?” (3) Her
rhetorical questions representamina in apostrophic voice suggest her depression and
resignation interpretants to the desires of her Eros. She muses about the seeming good
life her former schoolmate, Ochuole, now enjoys despite her predilection for pranks in their
school days:
Imagine how we despised you and your group for living
reckless lives. First we thought you won’t even make
your papers but you came out in a two two class and
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here, again, you are comfortably working while I am still
searching for one. (She addresses God above.) Look at
me, where do I belong now? What have I done wrong?
Have I not served you faithfully? (Tears dropping from
her eyes). (3)
As earlier argued, the Almighty God is the progenitor of the natural law and indeed all other
forms of law. Hence, Aloho acknowledges the supremacy of God as the basis of all law. She
is very much aware of that exalted portraiture of the natural law and the need for a total
allegiance by all human subjects. However, the unfortunate socio-economic circumstances
around her her apparent postmodernist disillusionment continue to question the
authority of the natural law in her consciousness. She wonders why a social and moral
dissident like Ochuole who is not academically brilliant in their days in school will be so
fortunate and comfortable at the expense of good girls like her. This fact challenges her
moral will and resolve.
Having endured the psychological trauma of obeying the natural law and not getting much
positive results for too long, Aloho makes a u-turn. She is psychologically ready to violate
the law. For her, it is the way of the world, if you cannot beat them, you join them. There is
always something about the law which confronts us positively or negatively; our
perception of its principles and the social influences we have around us. As a moral foil to
her friend, Aloho, Ogeyi continues to play her emphatic roles. She scolds and admonishes
Aloho for fantasising about her meeting with Ochuole:
And she what? (Clasps her palms together) say again,
have you forgotten her life style? And why should you
get yourself mixed up with Ochuole of all people, why?
That girl, who has soiled the reputations of all decent
girls in this Jabu. Is that the girl you ran into? I won’t
have you associating with her. (8)
It is ironical that Aloho now chooses to be like the bad Ochuole that she once despised
because of her behaviour. Ogeyi uses a satirical representamen in calling her friend to
order. To emphasise the seriousness of her point, Ogeyi makes a sarcastic and hyperbolic
assertion: “that girl, who has soiled the reputation of all decent girls in this Jabu.” To her
advice and show of concern, Aloho simply doles out her plans and newly acquired socio-
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economic characteristics to her friend. She sounds heartbroken and reborn. For her, of
what use is an unalloyed obedience when life hits you so badly, and you know full well that
your supreme factor has the power to shield you but has refused to do so. In her newly
found resolve, there is no going back “Ogeyi!...I believe she was changed. Anyway ...she
asked me to come to her ministry tomorrow morning. She assured me that her Oga will
employ me. Ogeyi, I am going. Right now, I want to get a job.” (9) There is an implied sense
of innuendo and parody in her subversive words and postmodern poise. In other words,
her moral and legal consciousness can be suspended as she really does not care about the
consequence of her actions anymore. At the moment, it is about the gratification of the self.
Ogeyi’s doting concern is not necessarily about Aloho’s willingness to get a job but about
her willingness to do just about anything good or bad to get it. Ogeyi knows that Aloho’s
readiness to explore other options having tried the positive option will only end her up in
misery hence, her doting concern. But Aloho looks unperturbed as she continues:
Look at me... with all the decency what have I achieved. Where
has decency or dignity taken me to? I am tired, I need some rest.
Just leave me alone I need to think (soberly). But Ogeyi, you see,
I tried to live outside the world all along right from my youth. I
see that the world is leaving me behind, can’t you see? You can
call me a rebel, but I need a job. That’s what matters to me now.
Have I not tried to live a holy life all along? What has become of
that, joblessness! Failure, ehn? People look at me as a failure.
Can’t you see? (9)
Aloho tries to justify her reasons for resolving to breach the natural law. Again, she uses
lampoon and euphemism as her representamina in violating the law. Her anger is actually
directed at the law (her superego) but she uses mild expressions such as “decency” and
“...live outside the world” to suggest her disillusionment with the law and her satirical
intent is implied in the word “rebel”. Her action mocks the law. In a similar instance, Scene
Two introduces another set of moral dissidents the Commissioner of Police and Chief
Haladu Ade-Amaka, the Honourable Minister of External Relations and a cabinet member
of the Federal Republic of Jacassa. The Commissioner understands the law, its sovereignty
and the fact that they both have been defiant. So, he admonishes Chief: “Chief, I do hope you
will soft-pedal and begin to keep your hands and nose clean?” (19) From his
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representamina, it is ironic that the Commissioner who is supposed to be a symbol of
legality is symbolising illegality. In his obstinacy and depravity, he simply placates the
Commissioner:
(Looking relaxed) Commissioner, I have always told you not to
bother yourself unnecessarily about these things. Here, take
this. (He opens his portfolio and brings out bundles of naira
notes and places them on the table. The commissioner grabs
them with the agility of lightening and puts them into his
drawer). That should be able to soothe your nerves,
commissioner and if you need more, do let me know. (19)
Corroboratively, the Minister’s use of language is sarcastic as it insults the moral sensibility
of the Commissioner and infringes on the criminal provisions of the law. His action of
giving bribe is equally sarcastic. It is also paradoxical to hear the Minister say that the bribe
should soothe the Commissioner’s nerves. One ordinarily would expect these men to
understand the laws of the land better since they are top government officials and elder
statesmen. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Chief, a supposed elder statesman, gratifies
his insubordination to the law with a bribe. His many years of depravity and immoral living
have rendered him morally bankrupt and conscienceless. He hides under the shadow of his
high position in the society to keep violating the law and by so doing recruiting more
defiant individuals to his illegal camp. He sees himself as being above the law by virtue of
his affluence and social status hence, he intimidates the Commissioner: “See that the law is
on my side and I shall make sure that the good things are on your side too and that means
keeping your job too and of course the Inspector-General seat. I am sure you are still
interested?” (21) He uses a satiric representamen to make his selfish point emanating from
his id.
Certainly, a rational law can never be on the side of corrupt and evil men. People simply
manipulate the law to favour their eccentricity. In this case, Chief is simply telling the
Commissioner to join him in disobeying the law. He wants an accomplice in his crime. But
in his disillusionment and psychological quandary, the Commissioner answers: “Chief, I
shall try, but you have to be careful. I have sensed the signal and I know the danger sign
when it appears on the dashboard.” (21) It is metaphorical to hear the Commissioner
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compare their perverse and disobedient act to the interpretant, a “danger sign”. It is also
ironical and comical to see a whole Commissioner of Police who should ordinarily be
militant and lion-hearted get jittery while an ordinary appointed Minister is bold.
When people who are supposed to be role models and icons of legality and justice fail in
that expectation, they end up setting wrong examples for other people looking up to them
as role models. Madam Hoha lets the reader into the character of the likes of Chief and the
Commissioner in her reaction to Ochuole’s expression of dissatisfaction with her job: “Of
course, most of them are dubious. All they do is stashing government money somewhere
through some conduit pipes for the rainy day and he has so many of the pipes in people like
you and your types around him there.” (12) Madam Hoha uses representamina sarcasm
and symbolism to condemn the defiant actions of the corrupt government officials.
The Commissioner of Police who is supposed to be a law enforcement officer becomes a
law infraction officer. His answer to Chief’s enquiry about his cocaine goods betrays him as
an enemy of the law. The Chief asks him: “by the way, how did it go with my goods? My
boys told me all was well.” (20) And he answers: “Chief, there was no problem at all. Your
goods are safely in the ware house. I directed the DPO there to personally supervise the
operations.” (21) Chief and the Commissioner of Police know the positions of the law about
hard drugs yet they choose to be iconoclastic. They both use the representamen “goods” as
a euphemism in masking the strong term “hard drugs.” The term, “goods” violates the
criminal provisions of the law. The Commissioner’s act of supervision of the illegal
operation equally infracts the law.
Meanwhile, Aloho is obliviously into the drug business. She has wished for a government
job despite her desperation. Chief deceives her into believing that she will be nothing more
than a protocol officer. He informs Mrs. Obi: “Yes. We are about to have a new staff. She is in
fact going to be one of my protocol officers. See what you can do to assist her settle down.
The permanent secretary will handle the necessary appointment formalities. Okay?” (35) It
is ironic and euphemistic for the Chief to use the representamen “protocol officer” to
indirectly mean a peddler.
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By deceiving Aloho, Chief once again wins another dissident to his illegal camp. Upon
hearing the news of the new job, Ogeyi continues to warn her friend, Aloho, about the
company of Ochuole since she is involved in the new job: “(Frowning her face) Ochuole
again! (Aside to herself). This name keeps bouncing back like a bad coin. (Facing Aloho
directly). So, you are not prepared to listen to advice ehn!” (37) Ogeyi uses innuendo, a
representamen of resentment, to caution her friend and seek compliance, “So you are not
prepared to listen to advice ehn!” The use of simile is also evident in the sentence “This
name keeps bouncing back like a bad coin”
It is evident that while the law operates on the Freudian principle of superego; characters’
interests often resonate the pride and selfishness of the id. Hence, the perpetual conflict
between these two unconscious fields sometimes leads to psychosomatics. Aloho is
obviously disillusioned by the perceived excesses of the legal system and its components.
She practically gives up on the law and decides to locate meaning within the confines of her
feelings. Her friend, Ogeyi, continues to perform that all-important function of an arbiter as
she consistently mediates between Aloho’s psychological rivals their selfish feelings and
the law. As a neutral and liberal arbiter, Ogeyi is defeated by the arrogance of her friend’s
self.
Aloho allows her desperation and selfish desires to push her into disobeying the law and
incurring its wrath. She has suddenly become an outlaw. She has probably been
emboldened by the lawlessness of Justice Odili and the Commissioner of Police. Their
audacity in violating the law erases all awe that was hitherto held by Aloho for the law. She
has earlier been mysteriously extricated from the angry web of the law which catches her
for nicotine crime. The registrar points out Aloho’s offence before Justice Odili:
“My Lord, the case is that of one Miss Aloho vs the State. The
fact of the case is that Miss Aloho is charged for carrying
substances suspected to be cocaine, an offence which is
punishable under the law of the land. It is alleged that she was
arrested at the Airport on her way to the United States of
America when luck ran out on her. The case … (51)
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The depraved Justice cannot deliver justice in the case because he has collected bribe. He
has told Chief The amount should be raised to one million naira to take care of all the
people involved in the case. You see”(49). The use of “people” signifies synecdoche because
that is a whole representing the parts criminal-minded individuals and pretenders
involved in the corrupt deal. Therefore, there is no way justice could have been expected
from the corruptible Justice. Given this premise, it is then not surprising that he discharges
and acquits Aloho “… The prosecutor is not present; it goes to establish the fact that there is
no seriousness in the charge being brought before this honourable court, therefore the case
is thrown out. The accused is hereby discharged and acquitted.” (53)
His hastiness to strike out the case based on a perceived technicality breeds suspicion in
the minds of ACP Yakubu and Constable Ojo. Ironically, that judgment exposes the Achilles
heels of both Justice Odili and the Commissioner of Police because they are able to spur
their prosecutor’s moral alertness. Justice Odili and the Commissioner of Police are simply
trying to find truth and order outside the domain of the law and in doing that; they make
themselves recalcitrant children of the law. As a firm factor, the law has specific ways of
enforcing obedience from its subjects. ACP Yakubu represents that triumphant supremacy
of the law over every individual in a given society no matter how highly placed. He
confronts his boss, the Commissioner of Police, over the unfortunate legal incident and
sensing the culpability of his boss in his responses, he dares him to do his worst, resolving
to see the case to its logical conclusion:
Sir, you cannot threaten me and do not bother at what
hits me but I shall ask you this, since only those who
have skeletons in their cupboards need fear. (He lowers
his face to him) Sir, do you have any skeletons in your
cupboard? Well, as a friend, I have come to warn you to
start some sanitation exercise on it because these boys
will open the cupboard so wide that the skeleton will
not only smell, it will stink. (63)
ACP Yakubu uses innuendo in warning his boss and securing obedience to the law. The
depraved behaviour of Chief and the Commissioner of Police completes the beastly
metamorphosis of Aloho which starts when she first encounters Ochuole. She is willing to
disobey the law having deliberately ensured its moral death in her consciousness. Her new
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attitude to the law is visible in her response to the doctor’s insistence that her intention to
commit abortion was a crime in Nigeria: “my dear young lady, you know that it is against
our profession to do such things. Indeed, it is criminal and one can end up in jail for life and
even lose his medical license for ever.”(66)
To his worry and concerns, she replies: “please Doctor, help me. I am ready to pay any
amount you charge.” (66) She has suddenly become defiant and hardened. In fact, she is
able to recruit the doctor into their bohemian camp because he succumbs to her
postmodernist appeal. In submitting to her emotional concerns, he makes the law
functionally passive in his heart: “okay lady, how much can you pay! I shall assist you even
though I am taking a risk.” (66) Her response reeks of negative interpretant total despair,
“the whole life itself is risk Doctor. I shall give you whatever you charge.” (66) Aloho is not
willing to reason with the law because she has become drunk with the recklessness of
herself. Obviously; the failure of her leaders cannot be exonerated from the bestiality that
has become her new identity. It is also hyperbolic for Aloho to say she can give whatever
the doctor charges.
From the explication so far, it is evident that the business of law is not that of the lawyers
alone; it is indeed the concern of everybody in the society. The law as a supreme canon will
not also spare anyone in the human society who claims to be above it.
As a creative process, the literary corpus of narratology, dramaturgy and poetry entangle to
create a ravishing and mesmerising synergy needed for the effective understanding of the
law. It is also argued that the aesthetic representation of the law from the conformist
signification is the business of the learned and informed, that is, lawyers and elders while
the witness and the accused only corroborate the position (s) of legal officers. They simply
react to whatever question they are asked hence, the reason they have been designated
pseudo interpreters in this research.
ACP Yakubu has successfully charged Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka, the Honourable Minister of
External Relations, and four other accused persons to court. Poetic euphonies are evident
in the charges as they are read out by the registrar:
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That you, Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka, Honourable
Minister of External Relations and a cabinet member of
the Federal Republic of Jacassa,
On the 21st of May, 1997 falsified figures thereby
altering the original amount purportedly to be contracts
awarded by your ministry to the tune of one point two
billion naira on P.V. No. 293 dated 21st May, 1997, an
act which is contrary to the provisions of government’s
financial regulations governing the award of
government contracts.
That you Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka on 3rd June, 1997
illegally authorized Miss Ochuole, a Chief administrative
office attached to you to apply, sign and collect the sum
of five point eight million naira to purchase capital
items for your office, a purchase which never took place,
an act which is contrary to the provisions of the
Financial Regulations guiding Supplies and Finance and
Government Stores regulations.
That on 9th October, 1997, acting on an anonymous tip-
off, a team of law enforcement agents were dispatched
to your residence and in the search that was carried out,
large quantities of substances suspected to be cocaine
were found there, an act which is contrary to the
provisions of the degree establishing the National Drug
Law, and on further investigations, more of the
substance was found with one Madam Hoha, the
proprietress of Akpara Hotel.
That you Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka recruited the
Commissioner of Police and Justice Odili and gained
their confidence thereby aiding and abetting your
obnoxious activities. Guilty or not guilty? (9596)
The uniqueness of the structures and the repetition of the relative pronoun (that) mark the
excerpt with some poetic significance; a supposed protector of the law is now charged with
four heinous crimes. The prosecution counsel exemplifies the narratological strand of the
aesthetic representation of law in his submission:
Your lordship and members of the jury, the facts are
these: in reaction to an article in one of the dailies
alleging a fraud against Chief Haladu Ade-Amaka, the
Hon. Minister of External Relations to the effect that one
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point billion naira could not be properly accounted for
assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the CID,
Mr Yakubu swung into action. His investigation took
him to the ministry where a clerical assistant in the
office of the minister, Mr. Ayo agreed to give
information on the acceptance of two thousand naira
tip. He agreed to make available photocopies of
vouchers connected with the fraud. My lord, if it pleases
the court. I shall tender the vouchers marked exhibit A.
Also, on a tip-off, law enforcement agents were
dispatched to his house where large quantities of
substances confirmed to be cocaine were found and
were further traced to the hotel of one Madam Hoha,
which was discovered later to be indeed a warehouse
for the Chief’s nefarious activities, a crime which has
been effectively covered and protected by very highly
placed government public officers who are
themselves supposed to be the custodians of the
law, the Commissioner of Police and a Justice of the law,
a situation which has made it impossible for the law to
take its normal course on this man and his accomplices.
But now, it seems, the law finally catches up with them.
These are the facts of the case, my lord. With your
permission I shall now call two witnesses to confirm
these facts: I call the first prosecution witness, inspector
Inaku: (97)
The duty of the witness as a pseudo interpreter of the law is to corroborate the position of
either the prosecution or defence counsel. Description, argumentation, exposition,
flashback and other key narrative features are evident in the prosecution counsel’s
argument. He skilfully weaves all these for the effectuality of his submission.
The significance of the law as a creative process can also be found in the dramatic gestures
of the prosecution and defence counsels:
Prosecution counsel: My lord, permit me to tender the
newspaper as exhibit B, and these wraps as exhibit C.
Judge: You may do so.
Defence counsel: (stands up) with whose permission did
you extract that information? I put it to you Mr. Detective
that you obtained those vouchers through the
applications of duress and intimidation on the greedy and
unsuspecting young man.
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Prosecution Counsel: (Jumping up) Objection my lord. My
learned colleague is insinuating …
Defence counsel: (Heated up too) My lord, I am not
insinuating anything and I want the witness to answer the
question. (100 101).
In this dialogue, the dramatic import of the legal process is foregrounded. Such
representamina as, ‘Jumping up” and “Standing up” when not invited to, raising of the
pitch, expressions of belligerence as suggested by, “ Heated up too” are all suggestive of the
dramatic import of the law as a creative process. Ogbeche skilfully presents to the reader
the rottenness of the Nigeria society occasioned by her postcolonial bestiality as well as her
blatant negligence and insubordination to the supremacy of the law.
Conclusion
Findings from this study show that characters’ representamina in Piercean ideation result
in the contravention of the law. Ogbeche reflects and refracts the rot in the Nigerian
society, a rot that is emboldened by the defiant attitudes of the elites who should know
much about the law and be willing to teach and enforce same by their own attitudes
towards the law. Through the words and actions of characters, the law is contravened. The
characters do not just contravene the law; they are often aided by the depraved audacity of
the microscopic few. In addition, socio-political agents such as unemployment, corruption,
peer group influence, bad leadership, and injustice, contribute greatly to the
preponderance of violations in the texts. Sometimes, laws are broken circumstantially and
not wilfully. When this happens, the culprit is seen as a victim of a dysfunctional society.
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This paper critically examines post-independence Nigerian literary writers' engagement with the issue of misgovernance in their country. The essay contends that what is grounded in most post-independence Nigerian writings is a bewildering amalgam of socio-political contingences and economic realities which bedevil the country as a result of misgovernance. The constant trope in the writings is the quotidian complexion of affairs defined by monumental incoherence, paradoxes, elephantine socio-political paralysis, corruption, intolerance, ineptitude, political subterfuge, treachery by a decadent political elite, economic strangulation, crippling social morass and moral atrophy. It is also argued that new and old breed politicians, the military, the traditional rulers, the academia, male and female rulers have all failed in their individual stints in the governance of this country. None of them is able to offer the much needed leadership by the post-independence Nigeria. Therefore, the quest for a true political leader for the country, as depicted in post-independence Nigerian literature, has become a near obsession as it is orgiastic.
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