Friday, March 6, 2009

Fellow blogger and reader, Mogaji, recently posed an interesting question,

"I think another current Nigerian Curiosity is the way the Judiciary seems to be falling on the people's sides these days especially with gubernatorial issues. Lately the Judges and the SANs have become the Kingmakers. Is this new development really a good thing or is this a case of the elite forcing their choices on the people afterall no one really knows who won these elections"

Since the last set of elections in 2007, countless governor election results have been overturned all over the country by the Judicial system. Andy Uba 'won' the governorship of Anambra State but had to step aside due to a court decision one year later. And most recently, a Court of Appeals annulled the governorship of Ondo State's Olusegun Agagu, who has now been arrested for allegedly stealing N25 billion ($170 million) from state coffers.

These and the many other annulled governorships reinforce the conclusion of domestic and international election observers who declared the 2007 elections as seriously flawed. As such, the resulting annulments highlight the judiciary's role as the last line of defense for Nigerian democracy.

As a lawyer, I strongly believe in the Judicial System as a means of righting wrongs and achieving justice. Therefore, I am pleased to witness Nigeria's Courts overcoming whatever pressures are on them from various interested parties, to follow the law and annul unworthy candidacies.

However, I worry about the corrupting element of power. Having that much say over such important political positions will only create opportunities for judges and their staff to be bribed with enormous amounts or coerced with violence or other threats. Yet, I rather have the judiciary as the last line of defense for Nigeria's democracy than nothing at all, given that elections in Nigeria do not guarantee that the actual winner wins. Sad, but true. At least a Court has to defend its decision and that information is typically available for review by individuals and ultimately by the Supreme Court. The alternative, relying solely on INEC's results while controled by Maurice Iwu, is far from acceptable.

Furthermore, Mogaji's point, that these Court decisions could be reflective of class issues, rather than the actual election results, is completely valid and must not be dismissed. This possibility will only impede democracy and the right to choose our leaders regardless of economic status and will create the grounds for more problems that Nigeria does not need. But, what do you think about all this?

Thank you to Mogaji for suggesting this crucial issue.
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8 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Sugabelly said...

She has a point. This reminds me of that book The Incorruptible Judge. Honestly, I would like to see a system that works, so we know that if we do have to take it to the courts, then it really is a serious matter. Far too many Nigerians view the government as an opportunity to fill their pockets rather than an opportunity to effect real social and economical change. Nigerians need reeducation and reorientation, and we need it now.


@ Sugabelly: Well said. I don't even think I can add anything to your comment. Mogaji's point is one that cannot be overlooked because of the realities of what Nigeria is.

I haven't heard of the Incorruptible Judge. Off to learn more now.

How you dey?

anonymous gal(retired blogger) said...

true. this power Maurice Iwu a cohorts vested on the judiciary is 2 much

Anonymous said...

Just wonder if the Judiciary is another tool to exact the vengeful recompense of god-fathers spurned?


@ Anonymous Gal: My sista, that is my concern, and as of now, we have no other alternative. I can't help but be reminded of that adage involving "the devil you know" ...

@ Danny B: That is the question isn't it, Danny? That is also a possibility that cannot be ignored. Thanks so much for swinging by.

Anonymous said...

The Judges and the SANs have become kingmakers is a reason to hold one´s nose to the stench coming out of those silks. Having that much say over such important political positions will only create opportunities for judges and their staff to be bribed with enormous amounts or coerced with violence or other threats. Are you sure there is no evidence of ghana-must-go bags involved in the on-going annulments? Before we can talk about democracy, perhaps we should examine the different types available. Who rules and on whose behalf? Yes, Mogaj has a valid point. The corruption that created the flawed 2007 elections will help feed the judiciary that is within its system and the two are inseparable.

"There is a general lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the Nigerian judiciary to deal with complex and time-consuming proceedings, which are the norm in major corruption cases. The inability to deal with corruption inside the judiciary and the need to strengthen its integrity is an integral part of the overall corruption problem". That according to this UN project that says the main project risk consists of the eventually fading political will within the judiciary to combat corruption within its ranks. That question again, who rules and on whose behalf. People no longer care about who, they only wish to see measurable benefits.

The Activist said...

hmmm. I am lost for words

anonymous gal(retired blogger) said...

its not just the power but the fact that now some states in nigeria will hold elections on different days. soon all the states will hv diff days 4 election

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