NIGERIA JUDICIAL SYSTEM, PROBLEM AND THE WAY OUT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The Judiciary arm of government is responsible for interpreting the law of the land, while applying it in situations where they are necessary; this makes the job of the Judiciary a very critical one. The law of the land constitutes the bases upon which judgments are ruled; it is therefore fundamental that its interpretation and application be carried out with absolute alacrity and meticulousness (Chambers, 2005). The Nigerian Judicial System comprises of ‘the Body of Benchers’ and ‘the Bar’ itself. The Body of Benchers is a collection of the highest ranking legal practitioners in the country which is headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation. It also has as its members the respective Chief Judges of the States of the Federation and certain very reputable lawyers in the country, whereas the Bar is a body of all the barristers in the country. These together constitute the ‘Nigerian Legal Class’. The Nigerian Judicial System has come a long way, taking its origin from the colonial era. It was saddled with the responsibility of checking the activities of the Executive and Legislative arms of government. The Judiciary as a matter of fact, plays a very vital role in the development of the country considering the fact it is the mechanism that oversees to the usage and management of power in the country. If the power that is vested on the Executive and Legislative offices is not checked, the bulk of the citizenry will have lots of troubles and challenges to contend with (Akpuru-Aja, 1999).
The primary responsibility of the Judiciary is to ensure that the Executive and Legislative arms of government function within the ambits of the constitutional provisions made available to them. The Judiciary ought to stand isolated while performing its constitutional duty. It does not need any interference from the Executive or Legislature in carrying out its primary assignment. It operates independent of any external disturbances and functions with the constitutional power vested in its office. The Nigerian Judicial System has had lots of challenges to contend with. During the shambolic military era, the Judiciary was subjected to abject emasculation to the extent that it lost the substance to its name and only existed as a nomenclatural entity. To say the least, ‘the Judiciary sank into oblivion’. But with the advent of democracy came an organized political façade that accorded the Judiciary its rightful place as the watchdog of the polity. The importance of the Judiciary in any political system cannot be over-emphasized, hence the constitution provides for its absolute independence to enable it perform its sacred constitutional function without sentiments and reservations (Akpuru-Aja, 1999).