As the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal continues its sitting, a former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters, Umar Dahiru, says Nigerians have lost hope in the country’s judicial system.
Dahiru spoke on Thursday during a book presentation in Abuja titled ‘When Justice Sleeps: Burning Issues and Crises in Administration of Justice in Nigeria’. The former lawmaker identified corruption, ethnicity, religion, and others as the major obstacles to justice dispensation in Nigeria.
He said the book is coming at the right time when Nigerians seek justice to electoral issues during the February and March elections. Dahiru lamented that justice is ‘sleeping’ in Nigeria, a metaphoric description of Nigerians losing confidence in the country’s judiciary system.
“This book could not have come at a more appropriate time than now as the entire apparatus of the Nigerian justice system seems to have ‘slept’ indeed. Let us look around. Most Nigerians have lost confidence in our judicial system to deliver justice. Cases linger in court for years endlessly, making real the popular cliché: justice delayed is justice denied.
“Recently the words ‘Go to Court’ in the context it has been used in recent times appears to have become a tool of oppression as those issuing the advice are impliedly admitting and acknowledging the blatant ignominious lack of justice in Nigeria’s judicial system: when justice sleeps,” he said.
Also speaking, the book’s author, Matthew Okeke, lamented the decaying state of the judicial system in the country. According to him, “The [judicial] system is not working well. It’s not responding to the needs of the people, the needs of the citizens and that is causing a serious discontent among the populace.
“This statement is not meant to indict anybody or the institution but rather for us to reflect on the system we are operating and see how we’ll improve on it so that it responds to the needs of the citizens. From what we hear and see on a daily basis, all of us should not feel at home or be happy about it. Justice can still be resurrected.
“All it takes to start working well, serving our needs is for us to adjust by attitudes and also by laws. Some of our laws need to be amended. In fact, I must say generally I must say that the attention we give to issues of justice is not adequate. ”
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal commenced on May 8 with Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and others challenging the victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.