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EDITORIAL: Nigeria’s Judiciary On Trial

The dissatisfaction with the judiciary’s handling of Mr. Peter Obi’s case is not an isolated incident. It reflects a broader concern among Nigerians regarding the perceived lack of fairness, impartiality, and independence within the judiciary. This erosion of public trust has far-reaching implications for the legitimacy and stability of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.

As keen observers of Nigeria’s political space, we believe there is still room for improvement on the part of the justices handling the presidential election petition case, especially at a time when many Nigerians have little or no hope in the judicial process in the country.
We firmly believe that if the judiciary, which is fundamental to upholding democracy in Nigeria, is no longer silenced or subjected to undue influence, our country would embark on a transformative journey towards rebirth, positioning itself as a true leader in Africa and an influential global player.

Despite goofing, US President Joe Biden, in his goodwill message to Nigeria in the build-up to the just concluded general elections, among several other world leaders, has identified and exhorted Nigeria to live up to expectations by sanitising her judiciary.

Without cleaning up the proverbial augean stable, which the judiciary seems to have become, whatever Tinubu’s government does would be tantamount to building a house on a weak foundation. The question remains: how can Satan cast out Satan?

And the justification for the assertion above is derived from the reality that the aforementioned institution has been too malleable and susceptible to manipulation by political actors with questionable character; hence, Nigeria has remained anchored on a shifty framework that has been hindering her from attaining her full potential as the true leader of Africa in terms of being built on sound democratic principles and anchored on a solid economic foundation.

Justice Tsammani’s assertion that he is powerless to enforce subpoenas is a dereliction of duty. Upholding the law and defending our justice system is essential. This weak position undermines justice and erodes public trust. We demand accountability, not excuses.
There is no single individual or institution that is bigger than our judiciary and by extension, the courts.

If the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, have failed to furnish the PDP and LP legal counsels with CTC documents of the elections after the court ordered INEC to do so, then, the onus is on the justices to invoke their powers and issue an arrest warrant for them, as this is pure contempt of court and should not be tolerated.

We are not trying to intimidate or bully the judiciary; as important stakeholders and in consonance with millions of young Nigerians and lovers of democracy, we are calling on the judiciary to remain steadfast, do the right thing, and dispense justice in line with its mandate on this election petition case and thousands of other cases brought to it by law-abiding Nigerians.