Nigerian judiciary weak, compromised by executive, highest bidder — Peter Obi

The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi, has said he was the highest beneficiary of the judiciary in the country when there were incorruptible judges.

The former governor of Anambra State added that the judiciary in present-day Nigeria is weak and has been compromised by the executive arm of the government.

Obi stated this during the Justice Anthony Aniagolu Memorial Lecture organised by the family and hosted by Godfrey Okoye University (GOUNI), Enugu, Enugu State on Tuesday.

Delivering a lecture on the topic “The Judiciary and The Future of Nigeria,” Obi said he won the election in Anambra State and another candidate was declared the winner and he approached the court for justice.

“I spent three years in court, and justice was given to me, and after a few months, I was impeached, but the judiciary restored me to power. After one year in office, they conducted another election and elected another person.

“But I went to the Supreme Court, where judges with respect for the rule of law reinstated me to complete my tenure.

“All these things happened because there were incorruptible and independent judges,” he said.

The former Anambra governor, who noted that such jurists were hard to find in present-day Nigeria, said, “Our judiciary is weak and compromised by the executive and the highest bidder.”

According to him, the future of our society is compromised because the independence of the judiciary has been destroyed.

“We need a strong judiciary to fight criminality. The rule of law is the foundation on which any society survives and develops, and the only thing that makes it sacrosanct is the independence of the judiciary.

“And it is a strong judiciary that makes businesses, investments, and democracy thrive,” Obi said.

He pointed out that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not the problem of Nigeria but the judiciary, to whom those denied their rights approached but ended up being disappointed.

Obi explained that institutions were weak because there was no strong judiciary where litigants could report wrongdoings and get desired justice.

Offering solutions, Obi advocated for the independence of the judiciary and non-interference by the executive, saying, “As a governor, I never appointed any judge but left the power to the Chief Judge.

“I bought cars for them but never appointed any judge throughout my tenure.”

Obi, however, extolled Aniagolu for his exemplary life, stressing that he served his country and practised law in an exemplary manner.

In a remark, Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State, represented by the state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Emmanuel Obi, described the lecture as “apt.”

Mbah said that the state had made several laws, saying that the government used the instrument of law to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of GOUNI, Prof. Christian Anieke, described Aniagolu as an “erudite jurist and incorruptible judge” who laid the foundation for the establishment of GOUNI.

He commended the family for their support and resolve to immortalise him, saying, “God will continue to bless you.”

He equally thanked Obi for accepting to deliver the 5th Memorial Lecture on Aniagolu, saying, “Our choice of you is based on our understanding of the spirited ability you have with Aniagolu.

“You cherished the late Aniagolu’s sacrifices on the altar of legal technicalities.

“You share with him that integrity and legacy one can bequeath to the younger generation as well as your understanding of democracy in Nigeria,” Anieke said.

The son of the late jurist, Prof. Chukwuemeka Aniagolu, described his father as an icon who contributed immensely to the growth of the judiciary in Nigeria.

He thanked Obi, the university, and other guests for the honour given to the family.


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