Is the Nigerian judiciary robotic and constrictive?
Is the Nigerian judiciary a hindrance to Nigeria’s current war against corruption?
Should the Nigerian judiciary allow legalese and or, legal technicalities to shield obvious outlaws? Must the judiciary look the other way in the face of public officials who constantly engage in extreme depravity, moral and ethical indecencies?
What is the purpose of Nigerian laws?
These are crucially important questions which Nigerians must answer! These are questions that must be answered effectively, just so that, we are all agreed, on the best way forward.
After I wrote, Supreme Court of Nigeria Vs Corruption War, I was inundated with false accusations! I was accused, by some, of denigrating or disparaging the Supreme Court of Nigeria! The truth is, I cannot disparage or denigrate the Supreme Court and or the legal profession in Nigeria, even if I had a cause to! Doing so would not make any sense to me and here is why; the reasons are many, but first and foremost, it is because I Love Nigeria! That affection, for Nigeria, our homeland, is the reason to engage in anything, written or spoken about Nigeria. It is the reason that overlook personal attacks against me for my opinions on Nigerian issues; especially public policy issues.
Clearly therefore, it will not be in Nigeria’s national interests, from my perspectives, for me in particular, to rail against the legal profession in Nigeria. The legal profession, which of course, includes the judiciary. It is not in my self-interest to do so, as I am a Nigerian and proud of my Nigerian-ness! Besides, I am a member of the legal profession in Nigeria, why then, would I cavalierly, disparage and denigrate my profession? Such an attack, especially, an unwarranted attack, would be tantamount to the infliction of pains onto myself; it will be an infliction of pain, in many several respects!
Happily, soon after my public comments, in just space of a week, we have had the good fortune of the erudite legal luminary, Barrister Gani Fawehinmi support, albeit, indirectly, my expressed concerns regarding our judiciary. Chief Fawehinmi in his public statements contained in a Nigerian Newspaper, titled “My Fears for Yar’Adua” in it, he was quoted as saying that “The judiciary is not helping matters. The judiciary, by its restrictive and dry interpretation of the constitution is not punishing corruption. It is not punishing corrupt people. All the big men, president, vice president, governors, deputy governors and others have been hiding under Section 308 of the Constitution. We are saddened by the restrictive attitude of the judiciary.”
“On the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for instance, he noted that court judgments seemed to frustrate all the efforts of the commission which was set up to fight graft.”
“Everywhere is an avalanche of opposition to the EFCC. Inside the courts, outside the courts. It appears to me now that the opposition to EFCC is so overwhelming,” Fawehinmi surmised”
In agreeing with Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the acclaimed legal luminary, I will add that I have come to see the Nigerian judiciary in the same lights regarding the verdict stripping the Independent Electoral Commission or INEC of powers to screen, powers to determine qualifications and powers to disqualify candidates. This I have likened to a referee or an umpire officiating sports tournaments or games, but without the requisite powers to mete out rewards or punishments! In Supreme Court of Nigeria Vs Corruption War I wrote my concerns and my worries, some rephrased in a few paragraphs below, among other comments.
I have agonized about several recent decisions or judgments emanating from the Nigerian judiciary; There was the Atiku case, that Atiku name must be on the ballot! And it was one week to the elections! Then, there was the judgment that returned Joshua Chibi Dariye to Government House, Ray-Field, Jos in Plateau State! And soon, DSP Alamieseigha may be returned to Bayelsa Government House in Yenagoa?
There was also the judgment, against INEC as umpire and referee in Nigerian elections, and the verdict, if followed to its logical conclusion, would make INEC a toothless lion and a crippled hyena!
Additionally, the speeds and gyrating pace at which our highest courts are willing to undo long concluded impeachments of governors, who are clearly confirmed parasitic leaches of Nigeria’s public resources, reinforces my suspicion about the unwillingness of the Nigerian judiciary to fight those who plunder and pillage Nigeria.
The question that should be asked and answered in the circumstance, is, what is the purpose of law? The purpose of law in Nigeria certainly, cannot be to give ringing endorsements to persons who have been censured, persons who have received public opprobrium at home and abroad as Governor Joshua Chibi Dariye of Plateau State, as well as the soon to be reinstated Governor Dipreye Alamieseigha of Bayelsa State has!
Why is it that the bulk of the Nigerian judiciary appears to be espousing a very limited and constrictive interpretation of the purpose of the law? Why would anyone, who is familiar with the depredations of the scourge of corruption in Nigeria, allow himself, to robotically and constrictively, interpret the purpose to the law, which in the final analyses, serves to benefit, only the very worst of citizens amongst Nigerians?
What exactly is the purpose of the law? I believe it is to serve society, to protect and preserve society, to have law and order and to serve as a clear arbiter of reward and punishment for conduct and misconduct in societal inter relationships. Law is not an abstraction or an academic exercise. These are unusual times and extraordinary times in Nigeria, we must use the laws to remove corruption, we must use the law at every opportunity, to remove the stumbling blocks and the clogs in Nigeria’s wheel of progress and greatness.
By some accounts, perhaps, by all accounts? corruption is the single biggest problem that has delayed, stunted and truncated Nigeria’s development, advancement and greatness.
All branches of all levels of our governments, the executive, the legislative and judicial branches of our federal and state governments, ought to be acting in concert and in unison to rid Nigeria of corruption. Corruption can only be eliminated and eradicated in tandem.
Nigeria’s national interests are at stake! No one can afford to continue to act as a mindless robotic machine, as if without a stake in the outcome of what happens to Nigeria, particularly, because of the scourge of corruption! What is the purpose of the law? I make bold to assert, that the law fosters better society. The law is the difference between stable and progressive societies and those other societies that are not. I want Nigeria to be a nation of laws!
Nigeria is a difficult country to reform and to govern, anyone who is familiar with our country can tell you that much. As Chief Gani Fawehinmi has rightly said that some Nigerians have visited President Obasanjo with so much venom and hatred he added that some Nigerians are apparently, carrying-over, those hatreds and venom to the President-Elect Yar’Adua who is seen as President Obasanjo protégé. President Yar’Adua’s emergence, his promise or vows to continue President Obasanjo’s needed reforms.
The Nigerian judiciary comes across a splendidly disinterested party, in the race to reach a desirable outcome for Nigeria. The Nigerian judiciary, in my view, appears to be bogged down, unnecessarily in legalese and unwarranted reliance on legal technicalities to disable itself, from participating, actively participating in the eradication and elimination of corruption.