By Clement Oduwole
I became a family friend of the Galadimas way back in the late 80s when I was the editor of the SUNDAY STANDARD newspaper of Jos. This is what led to the friendship. Mrs. Mary Galadima was the commissioner for Information and her ministry oversaw the Plateau Publishing Company (PPC).
My paper had run into a problem with the state police command headed by Alhaji Sani Wali (now late) over a publication exposing a massive Indian hemp cultivation in Wase Local Government which, we alleged, the security agents were doing little or nothing to checkmate.
The police boss, rather than hail us for exposing the illegal cultivation, took it personal. My crime reporter, the author of the story, who had been a pain in the arse of the command, was promptly arrested by the police. He was to be incarcerated without being charged to court for 40 days and 40 nights.
Eventually, he was arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court and the police were so naïve that they wanted to use me as a prosecution witness. I laughed down the weird request. How on earth could they think of using me to prosecute my reporter when I was the one that sanctioned the report for publication?
For failing to cooperate, they decided to charge me along. That made sense to me. My arrest added a new dimension to the drama as it drew the attention of many print and electronic media within and outside Nigeria.
The day following my arrest, the two of us were ferried to a Magistrate’s Court and charged for reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… and so, we waited for God to help us!
The prosecutor shocked everyone in the courtroom when he announced that we were to be tried under the draconian Decree 4 of 1984 which frowned at publishing falsehood about public officials. And everyone began to wonder which public officers the publication maligned. The whole drama was a ploy to silence my crime reporter who was doing a great job in his beat.
To shorten a long story, we were granted bail on self recognisance by Chief Magistrate Bako Ayas Bako who was a friend of the paper because we elevated crime reportage to an enviable level. Our case was then referred to Lagos where we would be tried under the dreadful decree. However, the case was abandoned following the overthrow of the Buhari/Idiagbon regime in 1985.
It was during the crisis that I had to be closer to Mrs. Galadima as my commissioner to update her about developments. Oftentimes, I dropped by at her residence. Occasionally, I met her spouse, Barr. Suleiman Galadima, in the house.
Two years after I bowed out of the PPC to co-found a weekly sports newspaper, KICK-OFF, with Col. William G. Walbe (now late), another case involving the paper and one of Barr. Galadima’s clients came up. Being a close friend to my partner (Walbe) and I, Galadima invited me to his chambers located along Massalacin Juma’a Street, Jos, for settlement rather than going to court. The matter was amicably resolved. Since that time, Galadima and I became regular seers of each other.
I had also followed his career trajectory very closely. After serving as a Magistrate with the Anambra state judiciary in 1988, he was appointed as attorney general and commissioner for justice in the old Plateau state in 1990. He once again left the bar and was made a high court judge in Plateau state.
When Nasarawa state was carved out of Plateau state in 1996, the lot fell on Justice Galadima as the most senior benchman from the new state, to become the pioneer chief judge.
On December 9, 1998, a higher responsibility gave him the nod and he was appointed to the Appeal Court. Two years later, he moved to the zenith of his career as a Supreme Court Justice in August 2010. He served in that position for six solid years and bowed out precisely on October 10, 2016 at the mandatory retirement age of 70 without any blemish. How time flies!
After moving over to Nasarawa state, our paths did not cross but I was not unaware of his whereabouts being a public figure. Then in September, 2015, providence reconnected us. I had gone to the National Mosque, Abuja, to pick a cap at my customer’s shed. And seated at the corner was Justice Galadima. I was so excited to see him but he looked blank. I was not surprised because I knew I had transmogrified!
“Good morning, Your Lordship,” I greeted him.
He responded quite alright but he still could not figure me out. At that point, I unmasked myself, so to speak: “Your Lordship, they still call me Clem Oluwole.”
“Clem, is it you? You have transformed!” He screamed with excitement and we pumped hands.
I asked of his spouse and my former boss. We briefly relived the good old days in Jos. Thereafter, I reached for the cap I went for. But he interrupted my search, telling me the one I chose was of low quality which fell around N3,000. Instead, he chose one for me which was almost double the price, and he paid for it. Interestingly, that is the cap I am spotting in the picture above.
We exchanged complimentary cards but I never got to meet him again until he retired last year. Then came the pleasant news a few days ago that he has been appointed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to replace Justice Ayo Salami as the new chairman of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.There could not have been a better replacement.
Besides being a reservoir of knowledge, the new chairman is a man of honour and integrity who is very strict, disciplined and unbendable. He is the right man for the job considering the kind of fillip his committee is expected to provide for the war against corruption, the invidious crime that has impoverished the Nigerian masses.
It is said that the judiciary is like a vehicle without an accelerator which moves at its own pace, hence the necessity to set up special courts to try corruption cases. With the appointment of Justice Galadima, it is hoped that his committee would provide the accelerator that would speed up the trial of cases that have been languishing in the regular courts for more than a decade.
Best wishes to my senior brother!