Needed: A Reformed Judiciary

By Ken Meju The three arms of government in a democracy are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The judiciary is the only avenue whe

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By Ken Meju

The three arms of government in a democracy are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The judiciary is the only avenue where the ordinary man expects to receive justice if everything else fails. It is the steadying pillar.

The Nigerian judiciary has unfortunately,  not been strong and thus has failed to live up to expectation. It has refused to be independent of the executive, whose sap it scoops for existence .It paints the silhouette  of the scion engrafted unto a stalk for sustenance, therefore, is practically afraid to act fearing  ability to survive on  its own whereas the judiciary is technically structured to defend the sap and server from excesses of the executive, the privileged.

Maybe, that explains the glaring failure by this privileged arm to call drifting groups to order, preferring instead to wait on the presidency that has signed its financial autonomy, to invite its leadership to breakfast at a time the populace is waiting for sound landmark judgments to shape history.

Little wonder, the heads of Judiciary are handpicked by the president without recourse to due process regardless of the hue and cry from all strata of the society. They thus have missed together as blood to impact negatively on the lives of the people like a common saying that the life of a people is in the blood. This is an  unhealthy flow in the fiber and bones of the society and known as corruption.

Pitch the Nigerian judiciary against the courageous rulings by American judiciary against President Donald Trump despite the fire he spits. Left alone, he would over run America but holding up the constitution against his acts, the judiciary stops his moves they see as detrimental to the laws that bind the people and what they stand for. The Nigerian judiciary maybe because some have smeared their hands in filthy money, have proven too weak to stand up against evil and a president that has no respect for the rule of law. 

The Judiciary is supposed to be unbiased in its dispensation of justice but lately, it  has been found culpable of compromise in the court of commoners who had held the judiciary in high esteem as the last hope of the common man on  civil, criminal and lectoral matters. Bowing to political influence, this hope zone has been tainted with injunctions  churned out indiscriminately sometimes contradictory, restraining actors as was openly practiced in the last electoral  in their field of play. These injunctions either delay or deny justice deepening confusion and distrust. In a few instances the apex court, the Supreme Court had to hurriedly hold court to save the situation.

So disgusted have the public become that many now believe the court dares not against the desire of the ruling party. Recall what transpired in Zamfara and the latest ruling on Osun State.

A social media commentator . Ike Obiora summed it up thus:  “I think  the judiciary is the least performing arm of government and in failing to act efficiently and speedily, they have become a huge contributor to why nothing works in Nigeria”.

Injunction has become the prerogative of the ruling party, whose members are considered saints and untouchables but is a dread and death to the opposition who does not compromise to status change or defection. They consequently are infected by the wrath of the ruling party.

The case of former Imo State governor, Okorocha who sought court injunction restraining EFCC from prosecuting him against OliseMetu, of the PDP  who has been languishing helplessly in detention is worthy of note.

Worried about the declining ability to judge without fear or favour in the courts, another commentator George Emeghara had this to say, “The way the judiciary in this country is going, armed robbers, drug pushers, kidnappers and other criminals with soon be able to get court injunctions preventing the police or other security agencies from arresting and prosecuting them from their crimes, even if they were caught in the act, red handed”.

As more serious issues of executive impunity and insecurity arise threatening the already fragile unity of the country, only a revamped and fearless judiciary can act as the needed buffer to keep evil does at bay. There is need therefore for the Nigeria Judicial Council and Body of Benchers to quickly rally to defend the santity of this all important arm of government. Nigerians need to see and be convinced that the court is still the last place for the common man to seek and be granted justice so he can be assured that his existence as a Nigerian cannot be wished away by the whims and caprices of a few uninformed miscreants hiding under the cloak of leadership to perpetuate selfish desires.

No doubt, the judiciary has been a major part of our problem. Too many lazy and corrupt judges on the bench, selling justice to highest bidder or brazenly pandering to one interest or the other. Even incurable optimists who have always believed that things will get better are beginning to have a rethink having witnessed the lies and fallacies that emanated from the executive height.

According to the president to Nigerian Judge, “I respect the institution. I have come before you three times, before I got here on the fourth run for the office. Your word is the last word on any given issue, but when he was urged to release Col. Dasuki by court order, he vehemently refused which connotes that the word of the president is rather the last world in any given issue.

What about the legislative? Is it any different from what obtains in judiciary is a food for thought.

The upper and lover house has been infiltrated by the executive and divested of Prowers to function as constitutionally granted. Their independence has been high jacked and swallowed by the presidency who only relentless hand picked principal officers of the constituted 9th Assembly based on submission and loyalty; from the President of senate to speaker of the House that arose from the anointing of Mr. President with the oil of the ruling party.

To me, this arrangement might spell as the ruling party posts overwhelming majority. Laws definitely would emanate from compromise while objectivity would be thrown to the wind.

Lopsided laws would surge and corruption would be shielded from crimes committed.

The concomitant effect is that the Nation would sink into depth, chaos would set in and economy would collapse if aforementioned impunities are not checked. Therefore, a strong and independent judiciary that is objective and not subjective is recommended to check the excesses that will result from unholy alliance of the legislative and executive arms of government.

 #Gender and Accountability

#Kebetkachewomen

#End Corruption

*Ken Meju is a Port Harcourt based journalist

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