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The Judiciary And The Last Frontier

On July 20, social media was in a state of upheaval when there was a report stating that Justice Boloukuoromo M. Ugo, an appellate court judge, resigned from the bench and the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) board over alleged demands from the executive branch to influence the judgment of the Election Tribunal.

According to Premium Times, it was alleged Ugo was requested to cripple the court’s independence by finding in favor of President Bola Tinubu. In addition, he was also instructed to withhold the evidence and dismiss cases that could have an impact on the election.

“Siding with the government on the petitions challenging the election of President Bola Tinubu would be the death of Nigeria’s democracy. He could not in good conscience remain silent,” stated Ugo reportedly.

Although the resignation of the Honorable Justice was debunked by the head of media of the Court of Appeal as fake news, the alleged statement that caused the major upheaval was never debunked, and this begs the question as to the purpose of the judiciary and what they can adjudicate.

As an unbiased umpire, the judiciary is the last stop for all Nigerian citizens, regardless of class, race, or ethnic background. Nigeria is a democratic country guided by the constitution, with judicial powers vested in the courts.

Section 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, provides that the judicial power shall be vested in the courts and such other courts as may be authorized. The judicial power vested shall:

  • Extend notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the constitution, to all powers and sanctions of the court of law;
  • Extend to all matters between persons or between government or authority and to any persons or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person;
  • Not excerpt as otherwise provided by this constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act or omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the fundamental objective and Directive Principle of state policy set out in chapter II of this constitution;
  • Not as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any law made on or after January 15, 1966, for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make such law.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court once said – “if you are a judge and you are corrupt, where do we go from here? Then everything has to come to a halt. If the legislature is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for redress. If the executive is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for remedy. If the judiciary is corrupt, where do you go from there?”

Now, that’s a question we must answer in unison for the survival of our nation.

After being incarcerated for a month, HRF perfected the bail release of indigent client Hamisu Salisu on August 7, 2023, at a Mararaba Magistrate Court in Nassarawa State. Prosecutors had failed to produce the state witness in court.

L-R: HRF-North Legal Associate, Alex Shija, and Hamisu Salisu.

HRF facilitated the release of indigent client, Kolawole Olaiya on August 9, 2023, at the Chief Magistrate Court in Garaku, Nassarawa State, after awaiting trial and incarcerated for over a month. The case was struck out for want of diligent prosecution. HRF also provided transport funds for the client.

L-R: HRF-North Legal Associate, Alex Shija, Kolawole Olaiya, and a Correctional Officer at the Keffi Medium Correctional Center, Nassarawa State.

HRF attended the International Conference on Prisoners Justice on August 10, 2023, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
L-R: HRF Program Director, Toyin Sanusi, and HRF-North Public Relations & Advocacy Coordinator, Emmanuel Chile.

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