The purposeful weakening of the rule of law by the Federal Government and politicians’ display of arrogance and contempt for the country’s democratic system, according to Governor Nyesom Wike, has brought Nigeria to the verge of collapse.
Wike spoke on Friday at the launch of the book, “Legal Paradigm in Nigeria: A New Direction in the Study of Law and Practice,” in honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Abdul Aboki in Abuja.
He said Nigerians are becoming more and more afraid about the success of forthcoming general elections, and survival of the country’s democracy beyond 2023 under the circumstances.
Wike said, “The Federal Government continues to undermine the rule of law, while political parties and party leaders continue to exhibit utter arrogance and disdain for the electoral laws and the democratic process in their actions and conduct.
“With cries of injustices, discrimination and inequities everywhere and with the risen instability and deterioration of law and order, only the undiscerning would believe that Nigeria is not headed for the hard rocks.”
He argued that some judges lack the moral fiber, bravery, and decency to uphold their judicial oaths while carrying out their duties, and that only a judiciary awake to its responsibilities can preserve Nigeria from the current political unrest and the ongoing danger to democracy and the rule of law.
“The judiciary dies where it lies comatose and removed from the aspirations of the citizens for good governance, the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights and the guarantee of free and fair elections.
“The judiciary dies when it can easily be manipulated; when justice can be procured; when the injustice is rendered in place of justice to the aggrieved parties; or when resort to self-help and other means of redress outside the law becomes the preferred norm by citizens,” he said.
Despite widespread dissatisfaction and hopelessness, Wike is of the opinion that Nigerians can still have faith in the country’s judicial system to save it.
“Justice could be delayed, which is not acceptable, but it must never be refused or denied for the judiciary to serve as an effective watchdog of our democracy and thwart the evil intentions of the enemies of the people.”
He called on the citizenry relentlessly, “Call on the Federal Government to strengthen our judiciary system by resolving challenges militating against judicial effectiveness as I have done in Rivers State where we continue to prioritize independence of the judiciary and improve working and living conditions of judges beyond measure.”
Wike says this is possible only when the judiciary is able to assert itself without fear or favor, upholding truth at all times and standing up to any other power or principality that attempts to undermine or override its constitutional responsibilities, powers and processes.
On his regard for the Adoki, Wike said, “While judges are of different social, economic and political persuasions, Hon. Justice Aboki prides self among the progressives that stands up for what is right and just and believes that the law and the constitution as interpreted and enforced by the courts must both protect and advance the unity and well-being of the nation and its people.”