Democracy in Nigeria is fast deteriorating to a level where we, as a people, have become a laughing stock among the comity of nations. It is only in Nigeria that a court of competent jurisdiction would make a pronouncement and the government of the day would deliberately refuse to obey it.
The executive arm has succeeded in arrogating to itself the powers to make and adjudicate laws, a function constitutionally reserved for the legislative and judicial arms of government respectively. The situation playing out in our country is clearly making a mockery of the principle of separation of powers, as propounded by Lord Baron de Montesquieu. Separation of powers is a constitutional principle introduced to ensure that the three arms of government mentioned above are not concentrated in any single body, be it in functions, personnel or powers.
For the avoidance of doubt, the legislative arm is the lawmaking body, the executive implements the law, while the judiciary is saddled with the responsibility of interpreting the law and settling of disputes whenever they arise. It is intended to prevent the concentration of unchecked powers by providing “checks” and “balances” to avoid “autocracy” in a democratic setting like ours.
However, it is generally believed that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, but when law officers are subjected to the law itself without any recourse to fair hearing and obvious interference from the executive arm, the common man may then have no choice, than to look up to God or resort to self-self for redress. Indeed, no man is above the law of the land, which is the grundnorm. No matter how highly placed an individual may be, they must subject themselves to the dictates and principles of the law.
Recent events in our polity particularly in the judicial arm of government have, however, left a sour taste in the mouth of many citizens who approach the courts on a daily basis to seek one redress or the other….