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JUDICIAL REFORMS IN A DEMOCRATISED NIGERIA. BY Prof. Abdul- Qadir Zubair , Dr. I.A. Abdulqadir , Dr. I.A.Yusuf , Dr. A.T. Shehu , Mr. M.K. Imam-Tamim, Mr. T.A. Abdulraheem.

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judicial reforms in a democratised nigeria

JUDICIAL REFORMS IN A DEMOCRATISED NIGERIA

BY

Prof. Abdul-QadirZubair, Dr. I.A.Abdulqadir, Dr. I.A.Yusuf, Dr. A.T.Shehu,

Mr. M.K. Imam-Tamim, Mr. T.A.Abdulraheem

BEING A PAPER PRESENTED ON BEHALF OF THE FACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN AT THE 2012 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LAW TEACHERS CONFERENCE HELD AT UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS ON 18 – 20 June 2012

1 0 introduction
1.0 Introduction
  • The Judiciary occupies a very important position in any society regardless of its form of government. It is an institution necessity to regulate socio-economic and political relationship especially in the modern society.
  • The performance of the Nigerian judiciary since the return of the nation to democratic dispensation has not met the expectations of Nigerians to engender a true democratic culture and constitutionalism in the Nigerian polity.
  • The judiciary is beset with several problems - lack of courage, temptation to corruption, delay in dispensation of justice, incidence of conflicting judgements, and embarrassing prevalence of judicial corruption and unethical practices that call for reform in the judiciary.
2 0 historical developments of the nigerian judiciary before the present dispensation
2.0 Historical developments of the Nigerian Judiciary before the Present dispensation
  • The Nigerian Judiciary has hitherto the present dispensation, had a history of 4 different eras viz, the period before 1842, 1845-1912, 1914 to 1953 and 1954 to 1999, which generally represent the pre-colonial, colonial, military and the first and second republic eras.
  • Before 1842 and the arrival of the Europeans in Nigeria, there was evidence of pattern of traditional constitutionalism and judicial processes which provided a system of checks and balances and to some extent restrained paramount rulers from abuse of power.
  • Emergence of colonialism across Africa brought about the introduction of British-type legal system to Nigeria to consolidate and legitimise the colonial rule.
  • Between 1843 and 1886, the first set of full courts were established in the Southern Protectorate – Courts of Equity was established in 1854 by virtue of Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1843 and 1893 while Royal Niger Company also established courts in its areas of operations by virtue of power granted under a Royal Charter in 1886
  • The first set of Supreme Courts were established between 1863 and 1900 – Lagos Colony in 1863 by virtue of Ordinance No 11 of 1863, the Northern protectorate In 1899 by virtue of the Northern Nigerian Order-in-Council 1899, and the Southern protectorate in 1900 via the Supreme Court Proclamation Order No. 6 of 1900. These Courts exercised same powers and jurisdictions as were vested in Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England.
2 0 historical developments of the nigerian judiciary before the present dispensation cont d
2.0 Historical developments of the Nigerian Judiciary before the Present dispensation (Cont’d)
  • Before 1914, Nigeria had three courts in the judicial hierarchy – Supreme Court, Provincial Courts and Native Courts. But after 1914, Provincial Courts while High Courts and Magistrate Courts were created. The Supreme Court then started exercising appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts.
  • Between 1934 and 1954 appeals from the Supreme Court went through the WACA to the Privy Council. But from 1954, the appeals went straight to JCPC.
  • In 1954, Federal Supreme Court was created with appellate jurisdiction over matters from High Courts.
  • During the colonial era till independence, the judiciary was not separate from the executive. It was a department of and controlled by the executive branch of government because the courts were mostly manned by consular or other administrative officers.
  • Upon independence, the judiciary became recognised as an independent arm of government. Appeals to the WACAand the Privy Council were also abolished.
2 0 historical developments of the nigerian judiciary before the present dispensation cont d1
2.0 Historical developments of the Nigerian Judiciary before the Present dispensation (Cont’d)
  • Independence of judiciary suffered setback with emergence of military in administration of the nation in 1966.
  • The emergence witnessed the disruption of the three-tier system of government and fusion of executive and legislative arms of the government, suspension of the constitution, proliferation of ouster clauses, and other anti-democratic practices that undermined independence of judiciary.
  • Despite the despotic nature of the military regimes, the judiciary continually made pronouncements on matters of fundamental rights and rule of law even when the culprit was the military government.
  • New democratic dispensation was ushered in on the 29th of May 1999. The 1999 Constitution, recognized the judiciary as an arm of government but the state of the operation of the judiciary still raises questions and calls for serious introspect, hence the series of calls for reforms
3 0 the role of judiciary in a democratic dispensation
3.0 The Role of Judiciary in a Democratic Dispensation
  • “the success or failure of our young democracy largely depends on our judicial system” – DahiruMusdapher, JSC at the 2011 Legal Year
  • the judiciary is a necessary partner in the tripod of governance. - AdemolaYakubu, Constitutional Law in Nigeria, Demyaxs Law Books, 2003, p.316.
  • charged with the responsibility of seeing that society’s laws are observed and adjudicating over disputes resulting from non-compliance or breach of these laws and awards damages or sanctions as the case may be.
  • In the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria, the judiciary provides sufficient measures of hope against any executive and legislative lawlessness and protect the oppressed.
4 0 judiciary and challenges of nigerian democracy issues and contentions
4.0 Judiciary and Challenges of Nigerian Democracy: Issues and Contentions

4.1 Delay in the administration of justice

  • the major factors responsible for the delay in the dispensation of justice in Nigeria includes institutional incapacities in the area of infrastructure (especially e-infrastructure), in-built delay mechanisms in the law, failure on the part of some Judges, the official and private Bars, law enforcement agencies, litigants and witnesses to ensure smooth running of court proceedings.

4.2 Corruption/Unethical Practices

  • Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria, as amended, provides that the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power as part of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy but incidence of allegation of corruption and abuse of power are reoccurring decimals among the arms of government (including the judiciary) since Nigeria returned back to democratic dispensation in 1999

4.3 Interference with independence of judiciary

5 0 reforms for agenda
5.0 Reforms for Agenda
  • Capacity building for the judges
  • Computerisation of judicial processes
  • Transparent and purposeful Appointment Processes
  • Provision of conducive environment for judges and judicial staffs
  • Effectively combating corruption