PROJECT TOPIC- A CRITICAL REVIEW OF AFRICAN (IGBO) TRADITIONAL JUSTICE AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR MODERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
This research titled, “A critical review of African (Igbo) traditional justice and its implication for modern African development” is aimed at unveiling the nature of the modern social justice system and its consequent disability in effectuating justice to all and sundry. It shall reveal the faultiness of system as evidenced in unfairness, retribution, lack of value for human life, bribery and inequality and this research will emphasize the need for a social justice system, which is also human centered rather than structural centered. It will promote forgiveness and reconciliation of both the offender and the victim and how to integrate them into one community so as to promote harmony and community living. This research revealed that the African traditional approach adopts holistic-humanistic approach based on community living and sharing. Its focus is the total membership of the community, the victims of injustice, the offenders/criminal and the community. It maintains a system restoration, liberation and integration of all into the community rather than retributive, vendetta, asymmetrical, artificial and inhuman nature of the current theory and practice of social justice. In the African social justice, an offence committed against a member of the community is an offence committed against all members of the community and through appropriate sanctioning system the victim is pacified with the community and the offender is purified to be reintegrated into the community. The researcher adopted histo-sociological approach, while the religio-philosophical interpretation is applied. Finally, it was concluded that African (Igbo) social justice system which centers on compassion for both parties, inclusive irrespective of social status, and recovery of the offender and pacification of the victim. African (Igbo) social justice system is built on the philosophy and principle of social harmony and not on vendetta or vindictiveness as in the modem system. It is also human centered, it values brotherhood and friendship.
- Background of the Study
All over the world, there is a deep sense of uneasiness caused by growing divisions in the society, lack of respect for justice, youth unemployment, abuse of power, destruction of nature, etc. The reason behind the imbalance is partly laid upon the developmental model with its political, cultural and psychological consequences. (Hautart 2011:24-36). Hence, Okoro (2014), notes that the current nature and practice of Social Justice is vindictive, selective and exclusive.
Therefore it has failed to address the question of poverty, class system, unemployment, migration, global labor movements in the current global village arrangement (922-933). Therefore, the practice of social justice in the modern era (21st century) has raised bewildering questions in the minds of the common masses and also challenged the sincerity of the world leaders to addressing injustice and fostering common community among the citizenry of the global village (see Okoro 2014. 922 933). Reiterating this fact, Okoro 2014, further observes thus:
The cliche, ‘justice for all; ‘equality before the law’, “non discriminatory treatment to all and for all’, ‘equal opportunity for all human person’s and the hope for classless society’, in practical terms have remained to some people a mere dream and to others a nightmare. The blatant vitiation on these ideals is not a surprise to skeptics and thinkers, This is because a critical consideration of the defining paradigm of the 21st century world reveals the obvious fact that the ideal of social justice has been inconsistent with the notion of human equality (922-933).
Conversely, the ideal state is a crime-free-world. This is a world or social system that promotes common humanity, where no one is victimized or discriminated against. It is a state or social system in which social justice is maintained and human rights honored. However, this state of nature in which everyone seeks the interest of the other and maintains common brotherhood has been an illusion or a mere day dreaming thus selfishness, competition, avarice and crime have become the defining paradigm of human relationship in the modern era (see Okoro 2016:95-115.)
However, social justice, which is the consequence of social evolution of the norms, orders, laws and morality, places premium on just action and creates intervention in the society by enforcing the rules and regulations based on the principle of equality (Tripathe 2012:37-41). Okoro (2014), states that the question of social justice cannot be discussed in isolation from the concept of a “just” society (1-21). Hence, Bell (1997), avers that the society gives the individual and group fair treatment and equal share of benefits, resources and opportunities (3-15).
Thus, the core issue in the development of social justice ideality is the securing of the highest development of the capabilities of all members of the society (see Jain 2015:15). Besides the good ideals of the conceptual and definitional framework of Social Justices (SJ) in the modern era, human practical experiences show the contrary. Thus we experience divisions against racial/ethnic, gender, religious, economic and political lines. We also experience high degree of oppression, discrimination and human brutality, which cut across all worlds and continents.
In Nigeria, over the years, there has been structural violence inflicted by the Nigeria government and this touch the very foundation of living of average Nigerians. This is evidenced in the unsustainable and tough economic policies responses to national issue which militate against survival in the country. With unfriendly. The scarcity of justice in Nigeria has essentially increased the threat and danger of crime and violence.
The fundamental crisis of social justice is rooted in leadership, management and persistent self-centeredness. When the interests of some groups and cliques benefits from certain leaders and are served instead of those of the whole community or society here. Social justice is at stake (Felix 2015:3-7). Nevertheless, innocent men and women have lost their lives as a result of the corruption and lack of a social justice system.
The poor and weak in the society are the worst hit of these social imbalance. The Nigerian society has woefully failed her citizenry, who have remained voiceless and helpless. Yet, we call ourselves “One people, great nation”. Our modern social justice system is notable devoid of empathy, compassion, love, care, morality, just judgment, equity and respect for human lives. Here, Okoro (2014), states that the core issue in the present complex and awful experience in the administration of social justice is ‘how do you increase proportionality? At what point is the shedding of blood permitted as a compensation for a crime? What does other modern conventions, instruments and declarations, for instance, the universal declaration of Human Rights, that defines human rights in modern parlance stipulate? (see Okoro 2011:66-111). In answering the above question. Okoro (2011)opines:
Beginning with the last question, we may observe that the universal declaration of Human Rights- (UDHR) did not in any of its articles suggests that life of human being should be jeopardized or sacrificed in defense of deeply held rigid belief. The Amsterdem declaration of 2002 never spell out in any of its 30 articles that war is an accepted means of achieving human rights and making the world more humane (66-111).
Therefore, Okoro (2014), observes that despite what UDHR and other modern instruments stands for, innocent lives have been and are being mercilessly wasted in pretext of defense of human rights and the enforcement of social justice both at national, regional and global fronts. Thus, both the innocent people and the alleged criminals are made to suffer (922-933).
The modern justice system is not community and human centered system, rather an institutional/legal center system where the concept of justice is based on vindication and requital and there lead to social instability borne out of unjust and unfair justice systems. It is therefore in recognition of this confusion and avid violation of the basic principle of social justice that this work is poised to seek for an alternative, which it already finds in the African (Igbo) Traditional social justice system. This shall serve as a viable option for maintaining an equitable social justice system devoid of prejudice, hate and disharmony in modern Nigeria.
PROJECT TOPIC- A CRITICAL REVIEW OF AFRICAN (IGBO) TRADITIONAL JUSTICE AND ITS IMPLICATION FOR MODERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been argued and rightly so that one’s world view constitutes the Archimedean point from which one operates (Oraegbunam 2014: 1-31). Thus Oraegbunarn underscores that one’s world view represents the sedimentation of one’s concept of the way things should be (1-31). Overly, the Western value maintains and promotes individualism and autonomy of persons within the community. Nigerian society of the 21st century has adopted the western relational paradigm and the result is the throwing overboard of cherished values, social capitals such as “community living and sharing, community social solidarity, brotherhood effects/care, community compassion and community social justice system…” (See Okoro 2016:95-115).
Moreover, it is shocking to observe that the modern social justice system is encompassed with divisions against racial/ethnic, gender, religious and economic lines. This has resulted in high degree of oppression, discrimination, human brutality, cruelty, injustice and human rights violation (see Okoro 2014: 922-933). Again, corruption has eaten deep into our modern social justice, the rich buy their way over and they alone can gain access to fair judgment while the poor suffer even as victims of no consequences. Hence, we cry out, the present Nigeria Social Justice System is, selective and exclusive.
Therefore, we subsume that the exodus 21:24, the often misquoted “eye for eye” verse, when read in context is a statement of the modern rule of proportionality standard used on our courts today (see Sterling, 2014:1-6). Hence the modern justice system is based on Vendetta or vindictiveness and no value for brotherhood and friendship (see Okoro 2014: 922-933). Therefore, if the modern world and especially, Nigeria society must chart on new way into a harmonizing and peaceful society she must find alternative social justice paradigm and this must be based on moral/traditional values. This is what this work is designed to articulate.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The primary purpose of this research is to unveil the nature of the modern social justice system and its consequent disability in effectuating justice to all and sundry. It shall reveal the faultiness of the system as evidenced in unfairness, retribution, lack of value for human life, bribery and inequality,
Finally, this research will emphasize the need for a social justice system, which is also human centered rather than structural centered. It will promote forgiveness and reconciliation of both the offender and the victim and how to integrate them into one community so as to promote harmony and community living.
1.4 Scope of the Study
This study focuses on the critical review of the lgbo traditional social justice system. This study also investigates the place of core traditional value such as humane living, respect for lives, equal and fair treatment to all, compassion, moral development of deviants, forgiveness and empathy, and all these come to play in Igbo social justice system. Finally, this study will reveal that the Igbo person understands and construes, control, justice, as mere instrument of general cohesion rather than agent for advancing individual or group interest.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be significant to our modern social justice institutions, it will be a guide to achieving a Social Justice System, which will be embracing to all, and one which will unite and not relegate some weak and poor citizens to the background. This work will be significant to the general public and especially to legal practitioners, who may have found the modern social justice system unsatisfying and are seeking an alternative justice system. Finally, this study will serve as a future reference for researchers on the field of the African (Igbo) traditional society related studies and modern Legal System and Social Justice
1.6 Research Methodology
The researcher under took a histo-sociological approach, while the religio-philosophical interpretation necessary for this study is not neglected. Internet materials, encyclopedia, journals and textbooks relevant to this study were duly consulted. This study in terms of citations used the APA method in documentating its references.
1.7 Organization of Study
This study is organized into five chapters, including the references. Chapter one introduced the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, scope of the study, significance of the study, research methodology and organization of the study. Chapter two deals with the Literature Review. Chapter three, the general perspectives of social justice, treats the nature and development of social justice, the purpose of social justice. While chapter four deals with the review of the African (Igbo) traditional justice system and its implication for modern African development. Chapter five involves the evaluation, summary and conclusion of this study, then the references summed up the entire exercise.