The Nigerian judiciary is regarded as the cornerstone of the country’s democratic system and it is often referred to as the last hope of the common. But since the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, the institution is now facing growing criticism over its impartiality in judgment, especially in pre and post-election cases.
The question on many Nigerians’ minds who are heading the courts to seek redress is whether the judiciary is still a haven for the common man. It has become a place where justice is only for the privileged, powerful individuals and high-profile politicians.
The biggest challenge facing the judiciary is the slow pace of justice delivery. Cases can take years, even decades, to be resolved, which makes it difficult for ordinary citizens to seek justice and have their grievances addressed promptly. This undermines the credibility of the judiciary and puts a strain on the resources of the average citizen, who must bear the costs of legal representation and frequent court appearances.
Another issue is corruption within the judiciary. There have been numerous reports of judicial officers demanding bribes in exchange for favourable rulings and it is evident in the outcome of many court judgments. This has not only undermined the integrity of the justice system but also erodes public trust in the judiciary.
Moreover, there have been instances where judicial officers have acted in favour of the powerful. This has led to widespread discontent among the general public and calls for reforms to make the judiciary more accessible and impartial.
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The government and concerned stakeholders must take steps to reform the Nigerian judiciary and one of the first steps should be to improve the administration of justice so that cases are resolved more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the government should take steps to stamp out corruption within the judiciary, by investigating and prosecuting judicial officers who are found to have engaged in corrupt practices and by increasing transparency and accountability within the judiciary.
Baba Abdullahi Machina can be reached via email@example.com