There Is No Gain To Babysitting Ignorance

By Simbo Olorunfemi July 6, 2020

There Is No Gain To Babysitting Ignorance

I put up a post on Saturday affirming Mrs. Akeredolu’s rights to privacy and confidentiality with respect to her medical status, rights that apply to EVERY other person and can only be breached where there are other overriding considerations beyond her rights, which has not been established in this case. Then came a flurry of comments in disagreement. That is not a problem at all. Even though there was not ONE counter-argument on the basis of law, which is the only plank which you can set aside the legal position I restated, but all sorts of extraneous and emotional turn-around over what was not in contention, still it is not problem. People often disagree not because they are in possession of facts or superior knowledge but of emotion. But that is okay. It is what it is.

What is not okay is attempting to bully a fact-based position into silence, because it is assumed to be a minority position. Even in the court, a minority position is allowed to place a dissenting judgement on record. And there have been instances where this dissenting opinion has formed the plank upon which the superior court has overturned a majority decision as it was in the recent Supreme Court decision on the Hope Uzodinma matter.

But when someone accuses me of ‘agidi’ and that I should learn to be a good journalist simply for restating the position of the law as it is and no-one has presented a counter-argument founded on law, that amounts to emotional blackmail aimed at forcing me to embrace silence. But I am unable to do so.

I do not write to massage the ego of people who choose to bathe themselves with the waters of ignorance. I share informed opinion which can only be countered with superior knowledge or facts, which I would gladly embrace.

My obligation, as I see it, is not to pamper ignorance on the head but to spank it, no matter how many adopted it as a pet. My job, as I take it, is not to follow the loudest voices, but bow to informed and knowledge-led positions.

On the matter I refer to, for the avoidance of doubt, I maintain that it is irresponsible for a 3rd party, especially the MEDIA, to publicly announce ANYONE’S health status without the person’s consent. The conditions under which those rights can be set aside are clear.

The right to privacy is so important that it is affirmed by the Nigerian constitutionality. On the issue of confidentiality, it is that important that even the Freedom of Information Act makes allowance for it. The conditions under which a quarantine can be declared and protocols governing it are clearly enunciated to avoid a situation of arbitrariness.

Of course, no rights are absolute. That we have said repeatedly. But you cannot arrest anyone’s legally enshrined rights on the basis of your supposed moral or ethical considerations, even if hundreds of millions subscribe to those moral views. To want to override legal rights on the basis of your moral supposition is to yield grounds to chaos and anarchy as replacement for the rule of law.

That is the point I make. It has nothing to do with who is involved. I do not even know Mrs Akeredolu. I cannot make her out in a photograph. I have absolutely no relationship or interest in the affairs of the government of that state. I don’t have any affiliation with anyone in the government. I don’t know one soul there. It is only a restatement of a legal principle that applies to every Nigerian, even as I recognise some people are permanently detained by political affiliations and their personal agitations to be able to detach their emotions from an argument.

But we refuse to be detained by the fickleness of emotion, no matter the altruism that might be powering it. The point we make is not about ethics or morality, simply about the law. I am aware and partially subscribe to the moral, ethical and political considerations, but that is not the thrust of my argument, and as I have argued – even with that, it is still her call to make.

If do not speak to the ethics or morality of the case. I do not have to, even as I acknowledge and subscribe to it.

The law is largely powered by principles. If you believe that my position is founded in error, what you do is counter it on the basis of principle, citing authorities in support. That is how it works.

For instance, you cannot override the principle that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court, simply you witnessed him committing the crime or whatever else. That would amount to you acting in breach of the law in the spirit of jungle justice.

The position of the law is not determined by the number of people who subscribe to it in the public space, but what is codified or as interpreted by the court of law.. The law is not necessarily what you imagine, think, assume or suppose it to be. It is what it is.

Our task is to expand the frontiers of knowledge, not give ignorance a free rein because some are comfortable with it.

Moderation is better than muscle