‘My Lord, Where do I keep your Bribe?’ – Niyi Osundare

Nigerian’s from all walks of life have been debating the arrest of High court judges over allegations of corruption.

Nigerian poet, Prof Niyi Osundare also joined in. The poet believes the African poet should be politically inclined.

“You cannot keep quiet about the situation in the kind of countries we find ourselves in, in Africa,” he once said.

And in a reaction to the arrest to alleged corrupt Judges, he published the poem, “My Lord, Where do I keep your Bribe?”

The Poem is reproduced below:

My Lord

Please tell me where to keep your bribe?

Do I drop it in your venerable chambers

Or carry the heavy booty to your immaculate mansion

Shall I bury it in the capacious water tank

In your well laundered backyard

Or will it breathe better in the septic tank

Since money can deodorize the smelliest crime

Shall I haul it up the attic

Between the ceiling and your lofty roof

Or shall I conjure the walls to open up

And swallow this sudden bounty from your honest labour

Shall I give a billion to each of your paramours

The black, the light, the Fanta-yellow

They will surely know how to keep the loot

In places too remote for the sniffing dog

Or shall I use the particulars

Of your anonymous maidservants and manservants

With their names on overflowing bank accounts

While they famish like ownerless dogs

Shall I haul it all to your village

In the valley behind seven mountains

Where potholes swallow up the hugest jeep

And Penury leaves a scar on every house

My Lord

It will take the fastest machine

Many, many days to count this booty; and lucky bank bosses

May help themselves to a fraction of the loot

My Lord

Tell me where to keep your bribe?

My Lord

Tell me where to keep your bribe?

The “last hope of the common man”

Has become the last bastion of the criminally rich

A terrible plague bestrides the land

Besieged by rapacious judges and venal lawyers

Behind the antiquated wig

And the slavish glove

The penguin gown and the obfuscating jargon

Is a rot and riot whose stench is choking the land

Behind the rituals and roted rigmaroles

Old antics connive with new tricks

Behind the prim-and-proper costumes of masquerades

Corruption stands, naked, in its insolent impunity

For sale to the highest bidder

Interlocutory and perpetual injunctions

Opulent criminals shop for pliant judges

Protect the criminal, enshrine the crime

And Election Petition Tribunals

Ah, bless those goldmines and bottomless booties!

Scoundrel vote-riggers romp to electoral victory

All hail our buyable Bench and conniving Bar

A million dollars in Their Lordship’s bedroom

A million euros in the parlor closet

Countless naira beneath the kitchen sink

Our courts are fast running out of Ghana-must-go’s*

The “Temple of Justice”

Is broken in every brick

The roof is roundly perforated

By termites of graft

My Lord

Tell me where to keep your bribe?

Judges doze in the courtroom

Having spent all night, counting money and various “gifts”

And the Chief Justice looks on with tired eyes

As Corruption usurps his gavel.

Crime pays in this country

Corruption has its handsome rewards

Just one judgement sold to the richest bidder

Will catapult Judge & Lawyer to the Billionaires’ Club

The Law, they say, is an ass

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow

But the Law in Nigeria is a vulture

Fat on the cash-and-carry carrion of murdered Conscience

Won gb’ebi f’alare

Won gb’are f’elebi**

They kill our trust in the common good

These Monsters of Mammon in their garish gowns

Unhappy the land

Where jobbers are judges

Where Impunity walks the streets

Like a large, invincible Demon

Come Sunday, they troop to the church

Friday, they mouth their mantra in pious mosques

But they pervert Justice all week long

And dig us deeper into the hellish hole

Nigeria is a huge corpse

With milling maggots on its wretched hulk

They prey every day, they prey every night

For the endless decomposition of our common soul

My Most Honourable Lord

Just tell me where to keep your bribe.

* Large, extremely tough bags used for carrying heavy cash in Nigeria

** They declare the innocent guilty

They pronounce the guilty innocent

*The poem was first published by Sahara reporters

4 Comments

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  1. Beautiful piece! One of the finest satires of our time.Our own version of the maxim, ” He who comes to equity must come with clean hands”, has of recent changed to, “He who comes to equity must come with greased hands”. My only consolation is that, inasmuch as we have counterfeit notes, there are still millions of genuine ones in our treasury.

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