By Ken Meju
The three arms of government in a democracy are theexecutive, the legislature and the judiciary. The judiciary is the only avenuewhere the ordinary man expects to receive justice if everything else fails. Itis the steadying pillar.
The Nigerian judiciary has unfortunately, not been strong and thus has failed to liveup to expectation. It has refused to be independent of the executive, whose sapit scoops for existence .It paints the silhouette of the scion engrafted unto a stalk forsustenance, therefore, is practically afraid to act fearing ability to survive on its own whereas the judiciary is technicallystructured to defend the sap and server from excesses of the executive, theprivileged.
Maybe, that explains the glaringfailure by this privileged arm to call drifting groups to order, preferringinstead to wait on the presidency that has signed its financial autonomy, toinvite its leadership to breakfast at a time the populace is waiting for soundlandmark judgments to shape history.
Little wonder, the heads ofJudiciary are handpicked by the president without recourse to due processregardless of the hue and cry from all strata of the society. They thus havemissed together as blood to impact negatively on the lives of the people like acommon saying that the life of a people is in the blood. This is an unhealthy flow in the fiber and bones of thesociety and known as corruption.
Pitch the Nigerian judiciaryagainst the courageous rulings by American judiciary against President DonaldTrump despite the fire he spits. Left alone, he would over run America butholding up the constitution against his acts, the judiciary stops his movesthey see as detrimental to the laws that bind the people and what they standfor. The Nigerian judiciary maybe because some have smeared their hands infilthy money, have proven too weak to stand up against evil and a presidentthat has no respect for the rule of law.
The Judiciary is supposed to beunbiased in its dispensation of justice but lately, it has been found culpable of compromise in thecourt of commoners who had held the judiciary in high esteem as the last hopeof the common man on civil, criminal andlectoral matters. Bowing to political influence, this hope zone has beentainted with injunctions churned outindiscriminately sometimes contradictory, restraining actors as was openlypracticed in the last electoral in theirfield of play. These injunctions either delay or deny justice deepeningconfusion and distrust. In a few instances the apex court, the Supreme Courthad to hurriedly hold court to save the situation.
So disgusted have the publicbecome that many now believe the court dares not against the desire of theruling party. Recall what transpired in Zamfara and the latest ruling on OsunState.
A social media commentator . IkeObiora summed it up thus: “I think the judiciary is the least performing arm ofgovernment and in failing to act efficiently and speedily, they have become ahuge contributor to why nothing works in Nigeria”.
Injunction has become theprerogative of the ruling party, whose members are considered saints anduntouchables but is a dread and death to the opposition who does not compromiseto status change or defection. They consequently are infected by the wrath ofthe ruling party.
The case of former Imo Stategovernor, Okorocha who sought court injunction restraining EFCC fromprosecuting him against OliseMetu, of the PDP who has been languishing helplessly in detention is worthy of note.
Worried about the decliningability to judge without fear or favour in the courts, another commentatorGeorge Emeghara had this to say, “The way the judiciary in this country isgoing, armed robbers, drug pushers, kidnappers and other criminals with soon beable to get court injunctions preventing the police or other security agenciesfrom arresting and prosecuting them from their crimes, even if they were caughtin the act, red handed”.
As more serious issues ofexecutive impunity and insecurity arise threatening the already fragile unityof the country, only a revamped and fearless judiciary can act as the neededbuffer to keep evil does at bay. There is need therefore for the NigeriaJudicial Council and Body of Benchers to quickly rally to defend the santity ofthis all important arm of government. Nigerians need to see and be convincedthat the court is still the last place for the common man to seek and begranted justice so he can be assured that his existence as a Nigerian cannot bewished away by the whims and caprices of a few uninformed miscreants hidingunder the cloak of leadership to perpetuate selfish desires.
No doubt, the judiciary has beena 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 theother. Even incurable optimists who have always believed that things will getbetter are beginning to have a rethink having witnessed the lies and fallaciesthat emanated from the executive height.
According to the president toNigerian 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 wordon any given issue, but when he was urged to release Col. Dasuki by courtorder, he vehemently refused which connotes that the word of the president israther the last world in any given issue.
What about the legislative? Is itany different from what obtains in judiciary is a food for thought.
The upper and lover house hasbeen infiltrated by the executive and divested of Prowers to function asconstitutionally granted. Their independence has been high jacked and swallowedby the presidency who only relentless hand picked principal officers of theconstituted 9th Assembly based on submission and loyalty; from thePresident of senate to speaker of the House that arose from the anointing ofMr. President with the oil of the ruling party.
To me, this arrangement mightspell as the ruling party posts overwhelming majority. Laws definitely wouldemanate from compromise while objectivity would be thrown to the wind.
Lopsided laws would surge andcorruption would be shielded from crimes committed.
The concomitant effect is thatthe Nation would sink into depth, chaos would set in and economy would collapseif aforementioned impunities are not checked. Therefore, a strong andindependent judiciary that is objective and not subjective is recommended tocheck the excesses that will result from unholy alliance of the legislative andexecutive arms of government.
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*Ken Meju is a PortHarcourt based journalist