NEF raises concern over state of judiciary

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The Northern Elders Forum says it is “deeply worried” about the current state of affairs within the Nigerian judiciary.

In a statement made available to journalists on Friday, the Convener of the Forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi, stressed the need for the judiciary to exercise caution in its activities “to prevent the erosion of its integrity, public trust, and confidence.”

Abdullahi noted with concern the controversies surrounding recent judicial decisions, particularly concerning election petitions, adding that such occurrences posed a significant threat to the future of democracy in Nigeria.

While recognising the importance of a fair and impartial judicial system, Abdullahi warned that any actions that compromised such principles could undermine the foundation of the country’s democracy and called on the judiciary to uphold those virtues.
The statement read, “The Northern Elders Forum recognises 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.

“NEF, therefore, calls on all levels of the judiciary to uphold the highest ethical standards and maintain impartiality in their decision-making processes. It urges judges to exhibit unwavering integrity and resilience when adjudicating cases, especially those pertaining to elections.”
The Forum said the judiciary played a crucial role in ensuring a balance between other arms of government and warned that the current trend may lead politicians “to view politics as a do-or-die affair.”

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.

“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,” the statement added..

Abdullahi also noted that such actions could erode trust in the judiciary and jeopardise constitutionalism, adding that without a fully functional judiciary, citizens could lose trust in the democratic process

The Forum also urged relevant authorities and members of the public to expose any allegations of corruption and undue compromise within the judiciary and that any substantiated claims should be swiftly prosecuted, which would serve as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to taint the judiciary’s reputation.

“The NEF called on the public to remain vigilant 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 statement concluded.

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