News Update

Dependent or Independent Judiciary: Who Cares?

By Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu

Right now, you and I are standing face to face with situations in our nation that need to be changed. The judgement before the PEPC is seen as a great opportunity for the judiciary to assert her independence. Not just that, the democracy practiced in Nigeria had with the inauguration of the new administration on May 29, 2023 become moribund and obsolete.

Democracy so far in Nigeria is only a juicy diplomatic harangue with the Western World. The concern of the common man in Nigeria is that even if the judiciary does not crave independence, it should remain the last hope of the common man.

How will she do that? By restoring hope, confidence and trust in governance and government. Some of these situations look totally impossible. But they’re not. It is not only because Nigeria belongs to God; the country belongs to Nigerians. If the people’s mandate is not restored, revolt and revolution could become the order of the day, even leading to a political impasse.

We must know that there is a special purpose for the present trends and uprising in Nigeria. The country has come to a crossroad. For some decades, Nigeria has never been ruled by a leader. Those piloting the affairs of the country has been soulless and mindless grabbers. Nigerians have been the suffering and smiling species while the politicians laugh at their idiocy.

It would not take much time before what would be would be but it may not come easily. There must be a struggle. All life is a struggle – that is the nature of things. A battle is raging in Nigeria not just in the physical, political but also in the spiritual realm. The spirit and the body are at war, conflict just as darkness hates light.

Part of the problem is that in Nigeria, the security agents, politicians and the judges are the most corrupt. They take bribes and pervert the course of justice.

Oddly, it does seem that every Nigerian have a fair share in the corruption indices. Men of God, prophets and pastors who should be the conscience of the nation are seen making utterances that betray deep-seated corruption tendency.

Life Magazine’s July 12, 1968, cover displayed a horrifying photograph of starving children from Biafra (in Nigeria during a civil war). A young boy, distressed, took a copy of the magazine to a pastor and asked, “Does God know about this?” The pastor replied, “I know you don’t understand, but, yes, God knows about that.” The boy walked out, declaring he was uninterested in such a God.

Abysmally, at such a time like this when the whole world faces untoward recession, crisis; every nation of the world survives through the instrumentality of compassionate leaders. The APC- led Federal Government lacks the skill, quality and capability to give governance a human face. Nigerians at this time needed someone who can feel deeply with the surrounding predicament and situation.

Worst still, the judiciary may be planning to toy with the fate of Nigerians. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been bought over and highly dependent. Everyone is seeing the fruits even when the Chairman of INEC hopes that the commission would be able to carry out her statutory functions and not that it would necessarily do what it was mandated to do.

Matter of fact, if the pendulum continues to dwindle this way, in the next 10 years, there might be no place to call Nigeria. Parents can no longer pay school fees, caused primarily by politically-induced catastrophic economy. You may choose to argue otherwise but presidents, governors, politicians are human being who believe and think they have power to do whatever they wish.

The Nigerian economy is generally large and very diverse. The country is endowed with a highly productive agricultural base and generally favourable climatic conditions, which provide the potential for intensive production, both for domestic consumption and for exports. What has obtained so far in Nigeria is mismanagement, nepotism, and corruption.

Furthermore, an independent judiciary in a federal system acts as a crucial guardian of the constitution, the rule of law, and individual rights, while also ensuring a balance of power between different levels of government. An independent judiciary should be able to interpret the constitution, adjudicate disputes between government and citizens, check the executive and legislative powers, protect individual rights, maintain a consistent and predictable legal framework.

A judiciary that is perceived as independent and impartial enhances public trust in the government and the legal system. Courts should provide legal certainty by interpreting laws and the constitution. Their decisions establish legal precedent, which guides future actions and ensures consistency in the application of laws. This predictability is essential for businesses, individuals, and government agencies.

Moreso, as a well-meaning Nigerian, can you predict the outcome of PEPT judgments come 6th or 16th of September? Your guess is as good as mine. The Nigerian politicians are in the business of power and resource sharing. Many vehicles are parked, the roads are scanty. Owners of V6 and V8 engine vehicles have put them on sale. Most federal roads have never been maintained for the past 20 years.

In Edo State, Benin City, the government wants Nigerians to understand that the Federal Government has neglected all the federal roads in that state. Advanced Nigerians will recognize that most infrastructures, were built during the Military era. Not only that our civilian presidents, governors did not build infrastructures they could not maintain the ones built by previous governments.

In conclusion, Nigerians may await another political manipulation. Corrupt judges can be manipulated or controlled by political interests or powerful individuals, compromising their independence and impartiality. For several years now, impunity has reigned supreme in Nigeria by the politicians, civil servants and political appointees. Bribery among judicial officers can have wide-ranging and detrimental effects on the justice system and society as a whole.

The battle for the heart of humanity has continued to rage throughout the centuries since the days of the emperors. Bribes taste so sweet but bribes taken to overturn the wish and mandate of Nigerians will be very hard to swallow. A judge giving trial is also on trial. A New Nigeria is Possible!

Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu writes from Lagos – Nigeria.