The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has expressed displeasure over efforts by some politicians and lawyers to compromise the judiciary into averting justice at election petition tribunals across the country.
In a statement on Sunday, the Chairman, TMG, Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said it was disheartening to see such at a time when democracy had become more threatened in the West African subregion.
He advised politicians on the need to thread carefully to ensure the judicial processes regarding petitions from the 2023 elections are seen to be fair.
“The revelation on political efforts to subvert justice through bribery to justices and staff of courts as revealed by the Chairperson of the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal is of great worry to every concerned citizen of Nigeria.
“While the action of the Kano State election petition chairperson in coming out to speak out must be commended, one cannot hold back from imagining the amount of corruption that would have already trailed the tribunals across the country.
“TMG and many other civil society organisations consider the attempt to pervert justice at the election tribunals through corruption as an onslaught on the judiciary. If allowed to persist, it would further erode citizens trust in the judicial system to deliver justice. It is therefore important to protect the judiciary from politics and corrupt politicians,” Rafsanjani said.
According to him, at this point in time, when the outcome of the 2023 election has resulted to unprecedented number of cases before the courts, the judiciary has inevitable been positioned as the last bearer of the light of rule of law and has been left with the task of deepening democracy in Nigeria through fair hearings and impartial judgements.
The TMG boss, who is also the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), said that while it is important for investigative journalism and civic activism to rise up to protect the judiciary from the corrupt actions of politicians, it is also crucial for the judiciary to protect itself as an independent arm of government by deploying every available legal provision within it means to ensure it is not allowed to be ridiculed by the politicians.
He said, “While Nigeria, through its chairmanship of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has taken upon itself the saddle of restoring democracy to the Republic of Niger, it must be pointed out that charity begins at home.
“If the Nigerian state cannot ensure free, fair, and credible elections that would have reduced the current burden on the judiciary, if the Nigerian government would close its eyes and turn a deaf ear to revelations of bribery to judges to pervert justice at the election tribunals, then there are no moral grounds to leading efforts to restore democracy anywhere in the world.’