By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on the country’s judiciary to “consider the consequences of its actions and decisions” and uphold the rule of law in all its activities around the elections where Nigerians voted.
The NEF in a statement, on Thursday by its convener, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said the forum and other stakeholders would “closely monitor the conduct of the judiciary and advocate for its ethical revitalisation to safeguard the interests of all Nigerians.”
There have been outcries in the country over the recent judgments given by the Court of Appeal in cases involving states ruled by opposition political parties which are Kano, Plateau, and Zamfara.
Speaking for the NEF, Abdullahi said, “The potential consequences of these actions may ultimately validate the concerns raised by retired Supreme Court Justice, Dattijo Mohammed in his valedictory remarks about corruption and undue compromises within the judiciary.
“We recognise 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.
“Judges should exhibit unwavering integrity and resilience when adjudicating cases, especially those pertaining to elections.
“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. However, if the judiciary fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it can have severe implications for the stability and functioning of a democratic society.
“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.
“This erosion of trust in the judiciary can lead to a breakdown of democratic norms and values, ultimately undermining the legitimacy of the political system.
“Furthermore, a collapsing judiciary jeopardises the safeguarding of constitutionalism, which is the cornerstone of any democratic society. The judiciary acts as the guardian of the constitution, ensuring that laws and policies adhere to the principles enshrined within it.
“Without a functioning judiciary, there is a risk of constitutional violations going unchecked, leading to the erosion of citizens’ rights and freedoms. This can result in a loss of public confidence in the democratic process, as citizens may feel that their voices are not being heard or that their rights are being trampled upon.
“The fairness and transparency of the judicial system are vital for fostering public trust, confidence, and belief in the democratic process.
“NEF believes that the judiciary should be an unbiased and independent arm of government, which is essential to the success of democracy and it should not be seen as compromising the integrity of its decisions particularly at a time when the nation is grappling with a range of challenges.
“NEF, therefore, calls on the judiciary to consider the consequences of its actions and decisions and strive to uphold the rule of law in all its activities to justify the confidence reposed on it by Nigerians. The NEF called on the public to remain vigilant in 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. NEF, alongside other concerned stakeholders, will continue to closely monitor the conduct of the judiciary and advocate for its ethical revitalisation to safeguard the interests of all Nigerians,” he added.