Role Of Judiciary In Strengthening Democracy
By Dr. Benjamin Nwokedi Alvan Ikoku Federal College Of Education, Owerri
A virile and independent judiciary is a sine-qua-non for a true democracy founded on freedom, egalitarianism, the protection of fundamental human rights and the rule of law.
In any true democratic set up, the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances provide the mechanism by which the judiciary regulates the activities of both the executive and the legislature.
In that capacity, the judiciary can declare null and void any action of the executive or legislature which runs contrary to the constitution, or violates the fundamental human rights of an individual or groups, thus, checking excesses.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria judicial hierarchy has continued to experience a gradual loss of public confidence.
For instance, there have continued to be reported cases of corruption, pervasion of justice and partiality on the part of some judges, magistrates, and other judicial officers, to the disillusionment, embarrassment and disappointment of the general public.
In the on-going democracy, the judiciary, is hereby, once more, called upon to act as a catalyst for the sustenance of a balance between the three arms of government.
To this end, the High, Appeal and Supreme Court judges of the land, and other legal personnel should resist the temptation to compromise their position, of being bought over by self-seeking, power-drunk and money-bag politicians or political parties to achieve their parochial interest.
In this direction, judges should be courageous, impartial, impeccable, incorruptible, honest, fair and firm at all times, without minding whose ox is gored.
A proper exercise of these functions is the foundation for peace, stability, equity and fair play, equality, as well as a disciplined and harmonious society.
The judiciary in Nigeria has come of age, and must bear in mind that it is the last hope of the common man.
While the poor and the rich should be made to have equal and unhindered access to justice, prompt and speedy dispensation of justice should be the order of the day because as the saying goes, justice delayed, is justice denied.
Given the current sprawling socio-economic predicament of the country and the compelling need to recover enormous public resources looted by political office holders and their cronies, the judiciary is called upon to patriotically facilitate the speedy realization of this onerous task rather than in any way constituting an unnecessary stumbling block or collaborating with such economic saboteurs of the nation.
On the other hand, the Federal and state government should note that, for effective dispensation of justice, judicial officers need to be properly motivated through enhanced salary package, conducive working environment, proper funding and requisite security network.
In the same vein, both the Executive and Legislative arms of government should always resist the tendency of flagrantly disobeying the orders, rulings and judgments of the court, a situation that made nonsense of the nation’s judicial system and contravened the constitution and rule of law.
Furthermore, is the arduous need for effective control by the National Judicial Council (NJC) which, like a watchdog, should exercise control over the bench and the bar.
No doubt, if the NJC begins to transparently and creditably perform its oversight functions on the judicial system, its impartiality and independence would evidently not be in doubt.
Such a healthy development would go a long way in enhancing a virile, dependable, trustworthy and robust judiciary that can protect the rights of the citizens and maintain law and order in the society.
Edited By Grace Namiji
Written by: Salihu Tejumola