• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Nigerian judiciary designed to deliver judgement, not justice – Dele Farotimi

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Dele Farotimi, a human rights activist, raised concerns about the role of the judiciary in delivering justice at the International Human Rights Day Conference that the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) hosted on Monday.

The conference served as a platform to critically examine the Nigerian judiciary’s role in upholding human rights and delivering justice for all.

At the event-themed “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All,” Farotimi argued that the current system prioritises “judgments”—proclamations from a position of authority—over “justice,” which entails applying equity and fairness to resolve disputes.

In his speech titled Judgement vs. Justice: The Nigerian Experience, Farotimi contrasted the two concepts, stating that “judgement” serves the sovereign, while “justice” aims to achieve a balanced outcome for all parties involved.

He said, “Judgement is the benevolence of a sovereign that sees itself above the law, while justice is the application of equity-based remedies and law to deliver justice to all sides in ending disputes.”

“The judicial system, especially the appointment process, is designed for a specific purpose.’

“The intention of the judiciary is not to deliver justice, but to pretend that we are a law-based society and to preserve the advantages of the sovereign (ruling elite).

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“Justice in Nigeria is an illusion. The objective reality suggests that we lie to ourselves that we can get justice out of a system that is so hopelessly compromised.”

“The pool of justice in Nigeria is almost irredeemably and irreparably destroyed, but it is not only the problem of the judiciary, it is the entire society itself.”

The Lekki Tollgate incident was cited as an example of this failure. According to Farotimi, the judiciary’s inability to hold those responsible accountable represents a clear case of justice denied.

He further emphasised the need for a system where everyone, regardless of position or power, is subject to the rule of law. He decried the current state of the judiciary, claiming its capture by vested interests alongside other institutions like the military.

Farotimi lamented Nigeria’s ongoing struggle for basic human rights as the world marks the 75th anniversary of adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Earlier, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who joined the event virtually, echoed similar concerns, highlighting the flawed selection process for judges and judicial appointments.

The former National Human Rights Commission chairman criticised the elevation of individuals with questionable character to the highest levels of the judiciary, calling into question their commitment to upholding justice.

Odinkalu also raised concerns about appointing judges based on personal connections, such as children, girlfriends, and friends, further eroding public confidence in the judicial system.

Olabisi Makanjuola, the chairman of the Lagos NBA and the chief host, highlighted the association’s efforts to protect human rights, including creating a dedicated desk to support individuals whose rights have been violated.