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Northern Elders Lambast Nigerian Judiciary Over Elections Petition Verdicts


Northern Elders Lambast Nigerian Judiciary Over Elections Petition Verdicts

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that it is deeply worried about the current state of affairs within the Nigerian judiciary, describing the current trends of verdict emanating from the elections petition courts as a significant threat to the country's democracy. 

In a press statement, NEF's Convener, Professor Ango Abdullahi, stressed the need for the judiciary to be cautious in its actions to prevent the erosion of its integrity, public trust, and confidence. 

Professor Abdullahi expressed dismay at the controversies surrounding several recent judicial decisions, particularly those concerning elections. Such occurrences, he noted, are disheartening and pose a significant threat to the future of democracy in Nigeria. 

"The potential consequences of these actions may ultimately validate the concerns raised by Retired Supreme Court Judge Dajjito Mohammed in his valedictory remarks about corruption and undue compromises within the judiciary. 

“The Northern Elders Forum recognizes the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary in upholding the rule of law and safeguarding democratic principles. 

“The judiciary plays a critical role in ensuring justice, protecting citizens' rights, and preserving the credibility of the electoral process. Any actions that compromise these principles undermine the very foundation of any democratic nation," Professor Abdullahi said. 

NEF, therefore, called on all levels of the judiciary to uphold the highest ethical standards and maintain impartiality in their decision-making processes. 

It urged judges to exhibit unwavering integrity and resilience when adjudicating cases, especially those pertaining to elections.

Professor Abdullahi expressed concerns about “the current trend that poses a threat of imminent judicial collapse has numerous Implications for constitutional democracy.” 

The trend, he said, poses a significant threat to the judiciary, the institution responsible for upholding constitutional democracy. 

He argues that if this trend continues, the nation risks descending into total anarchy. 

"The judiciary plays a crucial role in sustaining constitutional democracy by ensuring the rule of law, protecting individual rights, and providing checks and balances on the other branches of government. 

However, if the judiciary fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it can have severe implications for the stability and functioning of a democratic society. 

"The current trend may encourage politicians to view politics as a do-or-die affair. When the judiciary fails to effectively adjudicate disputes and hold politicians accountable for their actions, it creates an environment where politicians feel emboldened to engage in corrupt practices, abuse their power, and disregard the principles of democracy. This erosion of trust in the judiciary can lead to a breakdown of democratic norms and values, ultimately undermining the legitimacy of the political system. 

"Furthermore, a collapsing judiciary jeopardizes the safeguarding of constitutionalism, which is the cornerstone of any democratic society. The judiciary acts as the guardian of the constitution, ensuring that laws and policies adhere to the principles enshrined within it. Without a functioning judiciary, there is a risk of constitutional violations going unchecked, leading to the erosion of citizens' rights and freedoms. This can result in a loss of public confidence in the democratic process, as citizens may feel that their voices are not being heard or that their rights are being trampled upon," he said. 

Professor Abdullahi therefore warned that only through a robust and functioning judiciary can Nigeria truly safeguard its democratic values and prevent the descent into anarchy. 

"The fairness and transparency of the judicial system are vital for fostering public trust, confidence, and belief in the democratic process," Abdullahi said. 

The Northern Elders Forum also urges relevant authorities to conduct thorough investigations into any allegations of corruption and undue compromise within the judiciary. Any substantiated claims should be swiftly prosecuted, serving as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to taint the judiciary's reputation. 

"NEF believes that the judiciary should be an unbiased and independent arm of government, which is essential to the success of democracy and it should not be seen as compromising the integrity of its decisions particularly at a time when the nation is grappling with a range of challenges. 

"NEF therefore calls on the judiciary to consider the consequences of its actions and decisions, and strive to uphold the rule of law in all its activities to justify the confidence reposed on it by Nigerians. 

The NEF then called on the “public to remain vigilant in as to the direction the nation's judiciary is headed and not to hesitate to expose any perceived misconduct on the part of the judiciary. 

"It is our firm belief that a strong and incorruptible judiciary is crucial for the development and progress of our great nation. The Northern Elders Forum, alongside other concerned stakeholders, will continue to closely monitor the conduct of the judiciary and advocate for its ethical revitalization to safeguard the interests of all Nigerians," the Northern Elders said.

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