The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has noticed with dismay concerted efforts by unscrupulous elements, especially politicians and some lawyers in their teams to pressure the judiciary into averting justice through fair hearings and judgements at election petition tribunals across the country.
This was contained in a statement, Sunday, by the Chairman, TMG, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani).
According to the statement, “It is even more disheartening to see that at a time when democracy has become more threatened in the West African subregion largely as a result of the corrupt actions of some politicians, the need to thread even more carefully to ensure the judicial processes to addressing petitions from the 2023 election is seen to be fair has been disregarded.
“The revelation of 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.”
Other parts of the statement read;
TMG and many other civil society organizations 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.
At this point, when the outcome of the 2023 election has resulted in an unprecedented number of cases before the courts, the judiciary has inevitably been positioned as the last bearer of the light of the rule of law and has been left with the task of deepening democracy in Nigeria through fair hearings and impartial judgements.
While investigative journalism and civic activism need to rise 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 its means to ensure it is not allowed to be ridiculed by the politicians.
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.
It is clear to see the yearnings of Nigerians for democracy to be deepened in the country as manifested in the 2023 elections. While there is the general perception that the election fell far off citizens’ expectations for credibility, belief has been shifted to the judiciary to deliver justice.
With the current revelations, it can be seen that there are ongoing attempts to further deny citizens the right to justice. These are situations that can lead to citizens viewing those in authority as illegitimate and breed anarchy.
It is therefore imperative for all those who love Nigeria to play their role in ensuring democracy is not derailed in Nigeria as a result of actions of greedy and corrupt politicians who will stop at nothing for personal aggrandizement.
As has been observed especially in the Federal Capital Territory where citizens have emphasized their resort to the judiciary as the last hope for justice by championing campaigns with a keen interest in judicial activities around the election tribunals using the #AllEyesontheJudiciary hashtags and erecting billboards across the city, the actions of the federal government to pull down those billboards remain condemnable.
TMG views the action of the government as dictatorial and a clear clamp down on peaceful, harmless protest by citizens and these actions are not tenable in a democracy.
It is important for everyone to always have a keen interest in the activities of the judiciary as we must ensure the critical arm of government is not arm-twisted in delivering political justice in Nigeria. Why should anyone be afraid of citizens interest in the activities of any arm of government?
Who is afraid of #AllEyesOnTheJudiciary?