NIGERIA JUDICIAL SYSTEM, PROBLEM AND THE WAY OUT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The Judiciary arm of government is responsible for interpreting the law of the land, while applying it in situations where they are necessary; this makes the job of the Judiciary a very critical one. The law of the land constitutes the bases upon which judgments are ruled; it is therefore fundamental that its interpretation and application be carried out with absolute alacrity and meticulousness (Chambers, 2005). The Nigerian Judicial System comprises of ‘the Body of Benchers’ and ‘the Bar’ itself. The Body of Benchers is a collection of the highest ranking legal practitioners in the country which is headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation. It also has as its members the respective Chief Judges of the States of the Federation and certain very reputable lawyers in the country, whereas the Bar is a body of all the barristers in the country. These together constitute the ‘Nigerian Legal Class’. The Nigerian Judicial System has come a long way, taking its origin from the colonial era. It was saddled with the responsibility of checking the activities of the Executive and Legislative arms of government. The Judiciary as a matter of fact, plays a very vital role in the development of the country considering the fact it is the mechanism that oversees to the usage and management of power in the country. If the power that is vested on the Executive and Legislative offices is not checked, the bulk of the citizenry will have lots of troubles and challenges to contend with (Akpuru-Aja, 1999).
The primary responsibility of the Judiciary is to ensure that the Executive and Legislative arms of government function within the ambits of the constitutional provisions made available to them. The Judiciary ought to stand isolated while performing its constitutional duty. It does not need any interference from the Executive or Legislature in carrying out its primary assignment. It operates independent of any external disturbances and functions with the constitutional power vested in its office. The Nigerian Judicial System has had lots of challenges to contend with. During the shambolic military era, the Judiciary was subjected to abject emasculation to the extent that it lost the substance to its name and only existed as a nomenclatural entity. To say the least, ‘the Judiciary sank into oblivion’. But with the advent of democracy came an organized political façade that accorded the Judiciary its rightful place as the watchdog of the polity. The importance of the Judiciary in any political system cannot be over-emphasized, hence the constitution provides for its absolute independence to enable it perform its sacred constitutional function without sentiments and reservations (Akpuru-Aja, 1999).
Personnel problems constitute by far the most daunting challenge facing the judiciary and is the single most important problem threatening the sanctity of the judiciary as the bastion of justice. The judiciary comprise of judicial officers who are human beings and therefore subject to the vagaries of human nature in its insidious form. While there are good, intellectually sound and upright judicial officers of impeccable character and integrity in Nigeria, it is sad to say that a sizeable percentage of judicial officers in Nigeria fall below the standard expected of judicial officers in the area of intellectual capability, uprightness, character and integrity and this reflects in the poor quality of judgments delivered by the various courts in Nigeria and the growing problem of conflicting judgments and the attendant confusion it brings in the legal system in Nigeria
The judicial system in Nigeria is beset with several deficiencies in its procedural set up that make it very difficult to obtain justice and quick resolution of disputes in courts. Most of the procedural rules of the various courts in Nigeria are in dire need of reform and review to make it accord with the need to discard technicalities and uphold substantive justice. A situation where many cases in Nigerian courts take years to be resolved does not bode well for the judicial system and encourages resort to self-help by disgruntled litigants.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is no doubt that the Nigerian judiciary is plagued by a myriad of problems ranging from institutional to personnel problems, poor facilities to inadequate financial provisions and procedural to constitutional problems. Previous researchers that has sought need for solution to the problems suggested that there is the urgent need for constant training and re-training of judicial officers in the form of workshops, seminars and symposiums for judges to update their knowledge and restructuring the appointment process of judicial officers to ensure that only persons of acceptable intellectual capability, character and integrity are appointed to the bench. However, the researcher is examining the Nigerian judicial system with and view of identifying the problems within and recommending the way out
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the problems in the Nigerian judicial system.
- To identify the way out of problems in the Nigerian judicial system.
- To determine the factors encouraging problems in the Nigerian judicial system.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the problems in the Nigerian judicial system?
- What is the way out of problems in the Nigerian judicial system?
- What are the factors encouraging problems in the Nigerian judicial system?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- The results of this study will educate the general public on the problem in the Nigerian judicial system with a view of finding a lasting solution to the problems.
- This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover all the issues within the Nigerian judicial system and also cover the approaches that can be used to solve the problem for better delivery.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
- Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Akpuru-Aja, A (1999), Nigerian Judiciary. Abakiliki: Willrose and Appleseed Publishing Company.
Chambers, R. (2005). Ideas for Development. London: Institute for Development Studies.
Wikipedia (2015): www.wikipedia.com