Mrs Waziri, What Her Public Outcry Could Mean for the New Jonathan Presidency in Regards to an Independent Judiciary

A senior law enforcement official in the present Jonathan's administration, Mrs Waziri, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), recently expressed her frustration in public, over a judiciary system that still lacks independence, even as the country hits the political age and years of fifty!

Certainly, the entire justice system and those that act in the capacity of dispensing justice, and help in administering the law should only be about one objective , that is, a country built on respect for the rule of law.

It is time that our people should be told that the judiciary is supposed to know no “big man” or “big woman” or elite.

In other words, in Nigeria the law should top anything else but Mrs Waziri , an insider of the current administration has observed something sinister about our court system.

Mrs Waziri, during the delivery of a paper entitled “The EFCC's critical Role in growing the Nigerian economy” at the breakfast meeting of the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce in Lagos; noted that corruption continues to have considerable influence on judges and magistrates, thereby losing their independence.

The police system remains full of abuses resulting in prosecuting cases with bribery in the hands and minds of many officers.

The incoming Jonathan Presidency should put in place professional awareness exercises for court officials, showing them that they can only serve during proper or good behavior, and their salary will be fixed as well as increased to a much more higher amount in order to make sure that the wealthy or the powerful does not influence their decisions.

It is essential that the next Jonathan Administration take out bold and objective measures that signal for the preservation of the rights of every one in Nigeria as it relates to an impartial interpretation of our laws and dispensation of justice.

Since training alone will not some minds, it is time for every court official, from the messenger, clerk, prosecutor, magistrate and to the judge to take an oath charging them with protecting and upholding the laws, and agreeing to immediate legal ramifications like an instant guilt, conviction and imprisonment if they are found to make false conclusions on criminal cases, as such acts are bound to obstruct the administration of Justice.

Mrs Warizi's is concerned about those freed after being arrested for fraudulent practices, and such concern could be reduced if the incoming Jonathan administration introduces a House arrest system which involves the wearing of bracelet leg irons, ankle chains, and other forms of house arrest monitors.

There will always be those who deliberately believe that they are above the Law and can always fake their ways through a corrupt police and court system.

We have been informed by Mrs Waziri that since 2003, the commission has recuperated at least 11 billion dollars with 6.5 billion dollars recuperated under her administration.

Okay, part of that money should go into stabilizing various branches of the justice system by employing skillful and ethical court officials to help set up proper systems for the administration of justice.

The new Jonathan Presidency should use its executive power to re-create a judicial system in order to avoid or bypass the usual snail like approach of the legislature to many issues that continue to plague the legal system.

The new Jonathan Presidency should boldly remind the judges and magistrates to always remain women and men of exemplary morals who should not let their minds be distracted with monetary interests; and they should clearly not be dependent upon corrupt defendants.

The incoming Jonathan Presidency must see to the practice of a system of independent and impartial judiciary that will allow for the effective implementation of the rule of law in our courts. This goal cannot be met if in the name of separation of power the office of the Attorney-General is not properly monitored against corrupt interferences, monetary pressure, and poor management.

All kinds of training will be meaningless if the process of appointing judges, magistrates, prosecutors (it is time that they all certified lawyers and not police officers), and other court officials is improper and biased in terms of social or ethnic connection/nepotism.

The incoming Jonathan Presidency should to assure the citizens that there will be a system of disciplinary processes against corrupt judiciary across the federal, State and local courts.

Our courts could become more strengthened by putting in a system that could make it difficult for any member of the judiciary to become successful in the destruction of evidence and in the delay of hearings.

The intimidation or even the murdering of government witnesses continues to dramatically undermine the effective execution of cases; therefore a new system of security measures is needed to help the judiciary function well.

The new Jonathan Presidency must see to the fact that recovered assets, seized monies, or confiscate goods are put into use in needy places and for needy persons.

It is time we have in place full blown formal systems that ensures accountability from the various judicial personnel, the prosecutors, magistrates and judges especially and this could be done by effectively using safeguards like asset declarations.

Our courts could become more institutionally strengthened by bringing in a modern case management systems which could allow for better dissemination of cases, and it is time to fully execute procedures that allow for the report of complaints by citizens as transparency and trust are better enhanced in this way. Our ultimate goal is to have an almost perfect justice-based mechanism that allows for inflexible, open and uniform application of the law as it relates to rights of the people and the constitution.

All the people want is for the government to reflect fairness as it uses its justice system to pass judgment on the persons or property of Nigerians, and other Nigerian residents without regard to influence or money.

The new Jonathan Presidency must realize that no institutional power can hope to resolve issues of such significance like a corrupt judiciary without provoking agitation among the powerful, and as the country ushers into a new government, let its words and deeds reflect a real democratic society as it relates to the essential qualities of a judiciary—independence, equal justice, and impartial court system.

John EgbeazienOshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College - North Campus, Coconut Creek, Florida. [email protected]

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Articles by John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D.