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Nigeria’s judiciary has gone transactional – Obi



Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria, Mr Peter Obi, has repeated his call for stronger institutions and rule of law to save Nigeria’s democracy and future of the citizens.

He said the greatest challenge the country’s democracy was facing was not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but the activities of the judiciary in the dispensation of justice and administration of rule of law

Obi, who spoke in Enugu during the 5th Justice Anthony Aniagolu Memorial Lecture, said Nigerians of goodwill must join hands to dismantle rascality in the system and build a future that is acceptable to her citizens

He pointed out that the future of the country was seriously threatened by the alleged compromise and transactional activities in the judiciary, stressing that urgent steps need to be taken to rescue the country.

Obi, who spoke on the theme: “The Judiciary and the future of democracy in Nigeria”, stated that it had become difficult for foreigners to invest in the country due to weak institutions, lack of rule of law and ravaging insecurity.

“Nigeria has become a country where anything goes. There is no rule of law, there is almost no judiciary. It is a place where I can go anywhere and they give you land.

“You pay into the government’s purse and they issue you with receipts and the next governor will pull the place down without even looking at the papers. This is because there is no rule of law. You can push everybody down because there is no rule of law.

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“It is impossible for people to invest in a society of such nature. Anybody calling foreign investors has to be sure there is security, strong institutions and rule of law; in the absence of all these makes it impossible for foreign or even locals to invest here.

“Whenever we talk about democracy, they will say the problem is INEC. But I tell you that it is not INEC. It is the judiciary. The Judiciary is the biggest threat to Nigeria. If our judiciary is effective, our businesses will thrive. Our judiciary has become transactional and depends on how much you pay. It has become difficult for people who don’t know people to get justice in the judiciary and at any point in time, where the judiciary is not working, the society suffers,” he stated.

Obi recalled that he was the greatest beneficiary of the judiciary when he went to court to recover his election as governor of Anambra state but quickly noted that the judiciary then and now were not the same.

“This is not to say that there are no good and courageous judges presently but they are very few. We need to have a situation where those who are ready to protect the sanctity of rule of law are more in number than.

“In the absence of doing the right thing, the people suffer. Conflicting court injunctions everywhere is an indication that something is wrong with the system. Members of the judiciary should review their actions and activities to know how far they have been used to help the country.

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“When we talk about the future of our country, it revolves around rule of law. The level of rascality going on in the country is because the judiciary is compromised. If the system is not fair, we are finished. Go to prisons and see the awaiting trial list of people. You will shed tears.

“The days when we had a strong judiciary, people were able to challenge what was wrong. The days when we had strong institutions, people were able to do things in the interest of the country. It is no longer like that.

“That is why people contest elections to win at all costs and go to court to get an endorsement. The future of Nigeria with what is happening today, with the level of lawlessness, if we don’t do anything, none of us will be here any longer.

“We have a problem that we all need to see how we can start solving. The biggest threat of Nigeria, and our democracy is the judiciary. Let us rise and be patriotic for the good of Nigeria.”

Obi, who commented on the alleged refusal of the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly to swear in a PDP lawmaker declared by the Court of Appeal, stated that the actions were akin to contempt of court.

He called on the speaker to toe the path of justice and swear in the lawmaker in the interest of peace, justice and fair play.

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