A Non-governmental Organization (NGO), Speak Out Africa Initiative (SOAI), has urged the judiciary to rise above board by defending the country’s democracy through delivering policy-based judgments that would be seen impartial and unbiassed.
The Executive Director of the NGO, Mr Kenneth Eze, made the call on Monday in Abuja at the launch of “FixJustice.NG project”.
According to him, the judiciary needs Nigeria’s confidence by delivering judgment that is seen impartial, unbiassed and free from any undue interferences.
He added that by doing this, “history will be fair to us and the judiciary will further earn the people’s trust.”
“Like we know, public trust and confidence in our government institution is critical to the functioning of any democratic republic.
“But that of the courts and judiciary is a central tenet of the rule of law and often seen as the oxygen for any democracy that wants to thrive hence, its description as the “last hope of common man”.
“Among current ragging controversies, it is important we emphasize that judiciary is part of the democracy and by extension the electoral process and never an interloper as some misconstrued.
“The project launched is with a view to garner support for the judiciary in wielding and rebuilding perceived breach of trust and confidence on the part of the Nigeria citizens towards our hallowed court,” he said.
The project, he said, is a justice-focused project aimed at instilling public trust and confidence in the courts/ judiciary and fostering accountability.
This, Eze said, is also with a view to ultimately end perceived incidences of electoral judicial compromise thus, heralding a new reform in the administration of electoral justice and accountability in Nigeria by gaining political stability and legitimacy.
He said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has done the first part which many believed fall below expectations and known standards.
He added that the remaining part of the 2023 election task now rest with the judiciary, adding that “we are confident to say that the RIGHT THING SHALL BE DONE despite aspersions and attempt by politicians to paint the image of the court in bad light.”
“I urge our justice system to stand tall in dispensing justice without fear or favor to strengthen the justice system in Nigeria even as citizens and the world look up to them.
“The judiciary’s constitutional responsibility to determine the outcome of election cases has always elicited mixed reactions.
“The petitioner who succeeds will always applaud the judiciary for a well-done job, while the respondent may make a few sketching remarks about the judgment and sometimes the judge,” he added.
The executive director cautioned politicians to avoid making utterances that were inimical to the image of the judiciary system, adding that, this would further cause more damage to the country’s democracy.
Also speaking, Mr Hyginus Ibega, Senior Legal Officer of SOAI called for live transmission of tribunal sittings to guarantee people’s confidence in the judiciary system.
He said most times, there were misinterpretation by journalists in terms of trying to apply what was said during proceedings.
He added that to avoid such situation, the use of technology was very important and should be encouraged at this moment.
Also, the Program Assistant of SOAI,
Ms Oluchi Alphonsus said if the country’s electoral process were transparent, there would be no need to go to court to challenge results announced by INEC.
“We look forward to a time where the country’s election will end in the polling units rather than in the court.
“We can not be spending so much resources we do not have challenging election results, that is why we are here today,” she said.
She hoped that other stakeholders would come on board to see an end some of these challenges facing the electoral processes.