My Lord Tell Me Where to Keep Your Bribe by Niyi Osundare

My Lord Tell Me Where to Keep Your Bribe by Niyi Osundare

My Lord Tell Me Where to Keep Your Bribe

A poem by the renowned Nigerian poet, Niyi Osundare

My Lord Tell Me Where to Keep Your Bribe by Niyi Osundare was a poem published in October 2016. It is sad; but it certainly it fits the present reality in our nation Nigeria.

Poem’s Overview

The poem is a 24-stanza satirical reaction to the shocking discovery of some Nigerian judges’ involvement in corruption in October 2016. The judiciary, of which judges are principal agents, is believed to be the last hope of the common man. Judges are expected to be unbiased, fair and just in the discharge of their duties.

The Nigerian public was therefore astonished about the newspaper reports of allegations of corruption and particularly with evidence-based reports of illicit keeping of huge amounts of ill-gotten money in hard and local currencies in roof-tops and other ridiculous non-banking places by the judges.

Each of the cases was promptly investigated and the judges involved were being prosecuted in the courts of law. Though the shocking discovery was greeted by reactions on the print and electronic media, Niyi Osundare’s satirical poem was the first literary reaction. The poem was published after few days of the press reports, and it was widely circulated on the social media.

The Poet’s Thematic Pre-occupation

The poet’s thematic pre-occupation is the satirisation of Nigerian judges, their deep involvement in corruption and subversion of justice, the ridiculous places they keep ill-gotten wealth, and the enormous enervating effect of biased judgements and corrupt judiciary on national development.

Read more about the Mood Structure Analysis and Thematisation Patterns of the poem…


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

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