By Ajiroba Yemi Kotun 

“My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” – Jane Austin

INTIMIDATION is an animal thing. Ethical people do not intimidate. Unlike English novelist Jane Austin (1775-1817), the author of “Pride and Prejudice”, 279 pages, a brilliant novel published anonymously in 1813, which Austin herself called “my own darling child”, and who is celebrated mainly for her six novels that tacitly interpret, review, and comment upon the British propertied aristocracy at the close of the 18th century, Nigeria’s stubborn losers in the February 25, 2023 presidential election that are now angrily, ignorantly, and cowardly trying to knock the stuffing out of the judiciary, take its breath away, make the judges’ hair stand on end, or scare the daylights out of them with their so-called “All eyes on the judiciary” covert threat, do not know that there is a stubbornness about the institution that “never can bear to be frightened at the will of others” <Refers to the 2014 paperback, “All Eyes On Me”, 234 pages, Barnes & Noble, by bestselling author Linsey Lanier>. 

Probably, the judges, too, who before now know that intimidators use fear and bullying as their foremost big sticks, are keen as mustard on their own to reply these ignorant and angry ‘tricksters’ inaudibly that: “Bring it on! We are falling for your hurricane eyes, but you do not know us yet because our real eyes will expose your real lies one by one in the Court's own good time <Refers to 1 Peter 3:14 - " not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled">. Really, as you make your bed, so you must lie on it. Suitably, Hilary Clinton, 75, the 67th U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013) and author of “State of Terror” (2022), 512 pages, Simon & Schuster, a novel of unrivaled kicks and unmatched insider knowledge, wrote “Extremism thrives amid ignorance and anger, intimidation and cowardice” <Refers to the 2016 Nollywood movie, "Intimidation", starring Mike Ezuruonye, Ini Edo, Koffi Adjorlolo, Tonto Dikeh, and Pat Asore>. Barking dogs seldom bite just as bullies are cowards. 

And since democracy will not compromise any of its salient elements, these coercing ‘democrats’ should learn a thing or two from Mo Ibrahim, 77, a Sudanese-British billionaire businessman and the founder of “Celtel”, who said frankly that “Intimidation, harassment, and violence have no place in a democracy.” They should also read less of such refined “intimidation” defenders as British-American media executive Anna Wintour, 73, Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief since 1988 and the author of the 2021 book, “Wonderland”, 439 pages, Amazon, who tried to justify her “interest in getting things done” by saying “I think I’m decisive, and I like to get things done quickly. So if that comes across as intimidation, I’m sorry to hear it.” However, a worried blunt, hard-boiled, and galvanic Sandra Day O’Connor, 93, Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeal (1979-1981), the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1981-2006), and the author of the 2004 hardcover, “The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice”, 352 pages, hit the bull’s eye when she wrote thus “The freedom to criticize judges and other public officials is necessary to a vibrant democracy. The problem comes when healthy criticism is replaced with more destructive intimidation and sanctions.” 

Democratic or autocratic, all governments dislike those who ride roughshod over others. This is akin to how Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990) who was pleased when a Russian newspaper nicknamed her “the Iron Lady” as many had doubted whether a woman would be strong enough to lead any big European or American country in this modern age, disliked British left-wing zealots whom she accused of having “often been prepared to ride roughshod over due process and basic considerations of fairness when they think they can get away with it.”Just like these ones, the defeated former contenders of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, 71, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, too, think the ends always seem to justify the means and that intimidating the judiciary, keeping it at bay, or just riding roughshod over it with their indirect blackmails, subtle threats, or furtive pressure can yield them their hearts’ desires, turn the tables on the declared winner of the election, and deny him the sweat of his brow. 

That to control the judges, they just have to instill fear in them or make them feel afraid. But, instead of making such enemies for themselves and looking like the bad guys or not really good at being the bad guys (like American professional wrestler Ric Flair, 74), since the hustings towards the last general elections began and ended and up till now, they should be thinking of winning more friends and attracting and swaying people to their goals, whatever those are. In the 1936 book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, 288 pages, American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), whose enduring principles are helping many people to achieve their maximum potential in the difficult and competitive modern age, wrote “We ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing… without even considering the hurt to the other person’s pride.” Carnegie’s above book teaches “the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.”

Many people thank their lucky stars that they see everything in front of their eyes. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. Therefore, Nigerians are silently thanking their lucky stars for not having these kinds as their elected leaders who will rule by intimidation, possibly, because they have nothing else to bring to the table or contribute freshly. 

American attorney Michelle Obama, 59, who served as the first African-American First Lady of the United States (2009-2017) and the author of the 2009 hardcover, “Believe in the Possibility: The Words of Michelle Obama”, 128 pages, Goodreads, wrote aptly, confirming the foregoing thus “Leaders who demonize and dehumanize entire groups of people often do so because they have nothing else to offer.” We have on our hands disappointed people, who want to steal the presidency of ‘their country’ by using “lies, arrogance, and intimidation”, variegated with so much hate and rage. As Dr. Leslyn Lewis, 52 a Canadian lawyer and politician who has served as the member of Parliament for Haldimand – Norfolk since 2021, would easily recommend, after letting the dust of all this braggadocio settle, maybe part of what Nigeria will be needing going forward is a sweeping and truthful talk around the culture of rudeness, disrespect, disrepute, and intimidation that we have permitted to aggravate concerning the judiciary, our senior citizens, and other Nigerians at risk of holding poles apart views. Definitely, intimidation is one tool that decent people do not take in hand as a means to attain victory or success in any endeavor. 

We must tell ourselves the plain truth that a political culture of intimidation, bullying, pressure, coercion, fear, threats, or blackmails is no way to build a nation and no way a nation is governed. “Frightening other Nigerians” or intimidating and insulting them will not get any political party, group, tribe, or religion anywhere. According to Evangelist  Ugochukwu-Uko of the Igbo Youths Movement (IYM), "Nobody ever acquired political power by reining insults on those with opposing political views." Intimidation against people who hold different views from our own views has no justification whatsoever. It is headstrong and totally indefensible.


1. Canadian politician Stockwell Day, 73, the Leader of Opposition (2000-2001) and Minister of Public Safety (2006-2008), also agreed that “Judges must be free from political intervention or intimidation.”

2. It is easy to be wise after the event. People who devise wild skills to embarrass their fellow humans inevitably blunder their own feelings <Denotes to the failed plot to humiliate the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwo-ola, 69, in March 2003 over the grossly fake, misleading and malicious story that he  disguised to meet then President-elect Bola Tinubu in London>.

3. Intimidation is a tradition. It first gets its own natural life before growing into a disorder.

4. Will history repeat itself again, why not?

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