Impunity simply entails freedom from the injurious consequences of an action. It is impunity in action when a person who enjoys exemption from the repercussions of his wrongdoings engages in misconducts and illegalities; particularly when such actions are done in a supercilious and radical manner. Most often, such reckless and thoughtless actions sprout from classic arrogance, sheer ignorance or poor education. In the course of passing through this life, some people get intoxicated when they are exposed to unrestricted access to power, money, women, and classified information. Poorly managed knowledge could also be a source of impunity.
It is called impunity when a man or woman whose boundless and wild search for wealth sees cheating in business transactions as normal. Allah states in Qur’an 83: 1-4 “Woe to those that deal in fraud; Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men exact full measure; But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due; Do they not think that they will be called to account?” To confiscate the property of orphans or similar helpless or vulnerable class of people is an act of impunity.
The shameless way and ungodly manner in which some people strip legal owners of their right to the property that lawfully belongs to them is unbecoming. If anyone knows the wrath of Allah (SWT) that awaits a person who unlawfully devours the property of an orphan, he would avoid anything that will make him guilty of such an offence. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 4:10 “Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a fire in to their own bodies; they will soon be enduring a blazing fire”.
It is impunity when a man in leadership position abuses privileges of power. It amounts to impunity when a leader, in any position at all, uses state tools and apparatus including security operatives to unlawfully harass innocent citizens. Today, a person could be detained on ‘orders from above’ several months beyond the period specified by law for as long as the benefactor wishes. When people lose sense of responsibility, they become amenable to impunity.
Persons who are easily receptive to impunity sometimes due to pressures from powers that be (usually occasioned by corrupt practices) include judges and judiciary workers. Security operatives in Nigeria have also become instruments for orchestrating impunity especially in the hands of dirty politicians. As believers,the onus is on us to strive to resist all attempts from whatever quarters intended to intimidate us to engage in acts of impunity in the course of our private and official assignments.
Because of pervasive corruption that has not left out any segment of the Nigerian society, some lecturers in tertiary institutions in the country are being convicted nowadays, either in law courts or on the pages of newspapers,of irresponsible actions that are synonymous to impunity. Sexual harassment, extortion, high handedness, intimidation, unwillingness to help students with learning challenges, ambiguous examination questions with a deliberate intent to fail students, unscheduled tests, vague and confusing assignments to deliberately frustrate students or fail them, are some of the acts of impunity perpetrated by lecturers. It is impunity for a lecturer to abscond from his lectures for most part of the semester only to fix few hours on a particular Saturday or as may be convenient to him without due considerations to other academic engagements of the students.
It is impunity when a married woman brings or allows visitors in to her matrimonial home either in the name of business partner, office colleague or school mate without the express permission of her husband. For a married woman to wait until everything in the kitchen is exhausted before telling the husband is not only an act of impunity but also a search for trouble. A woman who cannot encourage her husband to save whenever there is a windfall from his earnings could be guilty of impunity.
It could be classified as impunity when a man fails to say, ‘thank you’ to his wife when he should, especially after taking a delicious meal. Without necessarily recalling what the Prophet (SAW) said about women who would always deny every favour hitherto done to them, a man should learn to appreciate his wife each time she deserves it. Although Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 4:34 that “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women”, yet they have rights as wives and as human beings. It is impunity for a man to treat his wife as if she were part of his ‘abandoned’ property. Allah says in Qur’an 4:129 “…But turn not away (from a woman) altogether as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding and practice self-restraint, Allah is most-Forgiving, most-Merciful”. Men would be guilty of impunity when they refuse to consult with their wife or wives on major family decisions.
In a private discussion, I once mentioned (to borrow from an existing adage) that the wages of impunity is death. However, my colleague with whom I was discussing opined that ‘the wages of impunity is “Allah ya isa, not death”. Besides having the fear of God in all we do and say, let us also fear the negative consequences of “Allah yaisa” which is a Hausa expression that could roughly be translated as ‘I leave you to God’. Allah (SWT) reminds us in Qur’an 34:45 “If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature. But He gives them respite for a stated term; when their term expires, verily Allah has in sight all His servants”.
Before this respite expires, let us liberate ourselves from the non-alcoholic substances that seek to intoxicate us through power, stupendous wealth and women by shunning acts of impunity. May Allah (SWT) guide us against becoming puppets in the hands of man’s worst enemy, Satan; amin.