In almost every country that has managed to scale the Sisyphean height of holistic national development, access to justice has often proven an irreducible present.
When people are able to access justice easily and without much fuss, it makes for a society where there is only very little resentment and bitterness at wrongs.
This is invariably because people when they are affronted and offended are able to easily get justice. This makes for a society that is just and equitable.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lays the responsibility of doing justice at the doorstep of the judiciary.
Over the years, as Nigeria has continued to evolve as a country and as a democracy, the quest for justice has been a full and forceful one.
In that time, all manner of flaws have been identified in the Nigerian judiciary especially as regards the justice delivery system.
The last hope of the common man has now been sarcastically rebranded as the lost hope of the common man amid a telling loss of confidence.
Yet, as long as Nigeria’s democratic façade endures, there is no option for the common man that excludes constant recourse to the judiciary.
But is it an institution prepared to give all it has got in defence of Nigeria and Nigerians? Is it an institution prepared to go the whole hog?
The most common complaint about just why the Nigerian judiciary struggles as badly as it does has a thing or two to do with delay.
Nigerians and foreigners alike who have had a reason to do business with the Nigerian judiciary have always found their time wasted.
Invariably, with allegations of delay has come suspicions of corruption and compromise; of the erosion of impartiality and independence.
All these have worked hand in hand to taint the judiciary in Nigeria as a weak institution that struggles to keep to its core mandate.
Nigerians are eagerly anticipating long awaited elections.With the year having just begun, Nigerians know the courts will get busy as the days go by.
The elections that will go on around the country next month will bring a wave of litigation,some of them beyond dubious.
Rising to the challenge of doing justice will be key to restoring the battered image of the judiciry in the eyes of Nigerians.
For the judiciary,it is perhaps also a good thing that the administration of President Muhammadu will finally recede into history.
The raids and invasions are well remembered.Will Nigerians ever forget how judges were roused in the dead of night?
Will Nigerians ever forget how a court room was invaded in broad daylight by agents of state seemingly acting in the interest of national security?
It was also under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that a Chief Justice of the Federation was farcically humiliated out of office.
The infractions added up to ignominy after ignominy as a subtle plan of intimidation against the judiciary slowly unfolded over the course of eight years.
But there have also been many moments of corruscating clarity by the judiciary. These moments have proven salutary.
These moments have ocassionally provided sustenance for Nigeria’s burgeoning democracy. More work needs to be done.
It may appear that the judiciary has in no small measure contributed to its travails at the hands of a obsequious legislature and overbearing executive.
As 2023 goes on, the judiciary must again reassert itself. Often cast as the weakest of the three arms of government,the judiciary nonetheless plays a critical role.
It is often the judiciary that rises to the ocassion when those entrusted with people’s power abuse that power for their personal interest and their family members.
In any virile democracy,it is the judiciary that clarifies the status and operation of the law. When any law is shown to be oppressive, the judiciary can proceed to undress and undo such a law.
If the Nigerian judiciary needs any incentive to do better this year,it is that Nigerians are in dire need of justice.