Judiciary is the Biggest Threat to Nigeria’s Democracy – Obi

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Enugu, May 17, 2024 – Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 election, has declared the judiciary as the foremost threat to Nigeria’s democracy, rather than the electoral umpire. Obi made these remarks during his keynote speech at the fifth memorial of late Justice Anthony Aniagolu at Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu.

In a candid and critical address, the former governor of Anambra State lamented the current state of Nigeria’s judicial system, which he described as being plagued by corruption and inefficiency. “Justice in Nigeria goes to the highest bidder and has become commodified,” Obi stated emphatically.

“While the judiciary, today, still boasts of a few outstanding judges, there is an undeniable decline in our judicial system. This decline poses a significant threat to the future of Nigeria. Justice is increasingly commodified and delivered in favor of the highest bidder,” he continued.

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Obi argued that the focus of blame for Nigeria’s democratic challenges has been misplaced on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). “Whenever democracy is discussed, fingers point to INEC as the problem. But INEC is not the problem; instead, the judiciary is. The judiciary is the biggest threat to Nigeria. If our judiciary is effective, our businesses will thrive.”

He emphasized that the erosion of the rule of law disproportionately affects the most vulnerable members of society, undermining the very fabric of the nation. “When the rule of law is compromised, the most vulnerable members of society are disproportionately affected, and the fabric of our society begins to fray. The integrity of our institutions, the protection of human rights, and the stability of our nation are all jeopardized.”

Obi called for an urgent revitalization of the judicial system, advocating for its independence and the promotion of values such as character, competence, capability, compassion, and integrity among both jurists and political leaders. “The rule of law is the highest intangible and most valuable asset of any society, and we must work tirelessly to protect and preserve it. We must prioritize the pursuit of justice above all else,” he urged.

He painted a grim picture of Nigeria’s current state, describing it as a country where “anything goes” due to the lack of rule of law. “Nigeria has become a country where anything goes. There is no rule of law; there is almost no judiciary. Everybody could be pushed down because there is no rule of law.”

Obi’s critique extended to the commercialization of justice within the judicial system, making it difficult to obtain true justice. “Because the judiciary has become commercialized and depends on how much one pays, it has become difficult to get true justice in the judiciary.”

He concluded his address with a stark warning about the societal consequences of a dysfunctional judiciary. “At any point in time where the judiciary is not working, the society suffers.”

Source: The Cable

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