Why Not London? A Radical Call For Unusual Measures In The Kano Gubernatorial Case And Judicial Overhaul Suggestions

Feature Article L-R:  UK Supreme Court,    Nasiru Gawuna       Abba Yusuf
L-R: UK Supreme Court, Nasiru Gawuna & Abba Yusuf

Transcending Nigeria's Troubled Ariwoola Supreme Court - A Plea for Unconventional Approaches, Proposing London as the Ultimate Appellate Court, Embracing a One-Time Departure for Unprecedented Resolution

No reasonable mind is unaware that before Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule on October 1, 1960, it took its appeal cases to the British legal system. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London served as the final court of appeal. However, with the attainment of independence, Nigeria underwent significant legal and constitutional changes. One of these changes was the establishment of its own judiciary and legal system. As part of this process, Nigeria ceased using the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as its final appellate court.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria was established to serve as the highest court of appeal in the country, marking a pivotal moment in Nigeria's sovereignty and independence in legal matters. However, recent developments have raised concerns about the effectiveness and credibility of the nation's legal system, particularly within the Supreme Court.

In light of the challenges faced by the Nigerian legal system, my proposal suggests an unconventional, controversial, and unusual exception for one specific case, such as the recent Kano case. The Kano case revolves around the gubernatorial election in the state. Initially, the Appellate Court removed Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) from office and declared Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election. However, discrepancies surfaced upon examining the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the judgment. These conflicting details suggested that Governor Yusuf's victory might have been upheld in the written judgment despite the initial removal announcement. The disparities in the CTC raised questions about the accuracy and consistency of the court's decision, injecting complexity and controversy into the case.

The proposition to seek an unconventional resolution in the Kano gubernatorial case reflects the escalating discontent and profound erosion of trust among Nigerians regarding the effectiveness and credibility of two crucial institutions—the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). These institutions, entrusted with upholding judicial integrity and safeguarding the well-being of legal practitioners, face intense scrutiny amid societal upheaval.

The leadership of both the NJC and the NBA is tarnished, marked by internal strife, authoritarian overtones, in-fighting, distrust, oppressive conduct, and a clear pursuit of self-interest. This collective behavior contributes to a pervasive undermining of public confidence in these institutions.

The National Judicial Council (NJC), constitutionally mandated to oversee the appointment, promotion, and discipline of judicial officers, has faltered in safeguarding the independence and integrity of the judiciary. Recent failures in these areas have raised doubts about the institution's ability to maintain the expected standards within the judiciary.

On the other hand, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), designed as a professional association for lawyers, faces internal strife among its leadership, diverting attention from its core objectives. In-fighting and power struggles hinder the organization's effectiveness in contributing to legal reforms, protecting the welfare of lawyers, and maintaining professional standards within the legal community.

The crisis in these pivotal institutions not only jeopardizes the foundations of the judiciary but also erodes public trust in the legal system. Addressing the challenges within the NJC and the NBA is essential to restoring confidence, upholding judicial integrity, and ensuring the effective functioning of these institutions in service to the Nigerian people.

The concerns have further added to lingering problems within the judiciary, particularly under the leadership of the current Chief Justice. The Supreme Court, as the final authority in legal matters, has been under scrutiny for its handling of cases and decisions. Despite its crucial role in upholding justice, recent events have raised questions about its credibility and effectiveness.

The unceremonious exit of Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad in June 2022 not only signified a weak change in leadership but marked the commencement of a tumultuous era for Nigeria's legal landscape. The circumstances surrounding his departure, marred by corruption allegations, cast a pervasive shadow over the judiciary, triggering a ripple effect that continues to reverberate.

The void left by Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad's departure was swiftly occupied by Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, but rather than stabilizing the judiciary, this transition set in motion a series of monumental failures. The landscape became riddled with a multitude of issues, creating an unrelenting stream of controversies that have progressively eroded the once-revered status of the Supreme Court. The judiciary, once an emblem of justice and integrity, found itself entangled in a web of challenges, compromising its foundational principles and leaving the nation grappling with the consequences of this turbulent period.

The Ahmad Lawan versus Bashir Machina case stands as a stark example of the judiciary's susceptibility to political manipulation. In this instance, the pursuit of justice became entangled in the web of partisan interests, unraveling the fabric of impartiality. The removal of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf further exposed the judiciary's vulnerability to partisan influence, with conflicting narratives within the Certified True Copies adding complexity and eroding the legitimacy of electoral outcomes. The ongoing controversy surrounding the Kano State governorship election deepens the crisis within the judicial body of the Ariwoola-led courts.

The judiciary, marked by a history of familial ties among judges, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has raised serious concerns about impartiality. This, combined with a disconcerting trend of a select few judges overturning the collective will of millions, paints a grim picture of a justice system in peril.

Ethical-minded legal practitioners and a concerned populace express dismay at the transformation of the judiciary into a political tool. Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola faces damning accusations of nepotism, tribalism, and unabashed partisanship. The once-revered Nigerian Supreme Court now grapples with a credibility crisis, as oversight bodies like the National Judicial Council and the Nigeria Bar Association seem feeble in addressing these festering issues.

The Kano gubernatorial case serves as a heart-wrenching microcosm, laying bare the systemic challenges that plague Nigeria's judicial landscape. It unfolds a narrative of systemic dysfunction, where the glaring disparities between the pronouncements made in open court and the meticulously formalized judgments sow the seeds of doubt, confusion, and a pervasive sense of betrayal. This disconcerting scenario, laden with uncertainty, distrust, and a lamentable erosion of foundational integrity, paints a distressing portrait of a judiciary grappling with its own demons.

Amidst the legal intricacies, the presence of questionable clerical errors introduces a disturbing element to an already fraught narrative. These errors not only cast a shadow of doubt on the competence and precision of the judicial process but also hint at potential irregularities that chip away at the core principles of justice. The ambiguity surrounding these errors becomes a breeding ground for skepticism, inviting questions about the transparency, honesty, and conscientiousness of the very institution entrusted with upholding the pillars of justice.

In this disheartening tableau, elements of deception and lies permeate the narrative, further exacerbating the erosion of public trust. The judiciary, meant to be a bastion of fairness and impartiality, finds itself entangled in a web of shamelessness and impunity. The very qualities that should define a robust and credible legal system are undermined by a series of regrettable events, leaving citizens grappling with disillusionment and a sense of betrayal.

The lamentable state of affairs portrayed in the Kano case is a reflection of the larger malaise within Nigeria's judicial system. It underscores the urgent need for introspection, reform, and a steadfast commitment to restoring the tattered fabric of trust. As the foundational integrity of the judiciary is called into question, the path to redemption demands a comprehensive and profound reckoning with the issues that have brought it to this precipice.

Amidst the backdrop of relentless waves of negative news, pervasive corruption, and unwarranted political interventions, the proposition to relocate the Kano case to Britain transcends the realm of recklessness. Instead, it emerges as a radical plea for a transformative and seismic shift in the pursuit of justice. The tenure of Justice Ariwoola, notably marked by a discernible decline in the trajectory of Nigeria's legal landscape, accentuates the urgency for unconventional measures to safeguard the principles of fairness and transparency.

The seemingly controversial proposal is rooted in the profound lack of faith in the Nigerian judiciary. It is a plea to transcend the daily deluge of negativity and seek a resolution that goes beyond the boundaries of a compromised legal system. Taking the Kano case to Britain becomes a plea for transparency, accountability, and the restoration of public trust, elements seemingly lost in Nigeria's troubled judicial landscape.

In the labyrinth of Nigeria's judicial turmoil, the proposition to seek resolution abroad emerges as a poignant plea for the revival of justice. It is a desperate cry for a renaissance in the nation's judicial sanctum, a place where justice should be an unwavering beacon, blind to biases, impartial, and liberated from the corroding chains of corruption and partisanship. This proposal transcends the confines of the Kano case; it is an earnest call for a profound systemic transformation—a reawakening of faith, a rededication to the bedrock principles that should define justice in a democratic society.

As a psychologist, my recommendation is more than a clinical analysis; it is a heartfelt response to the deep-rooted ethical and moral decay within the system. The gravity of this suggestion is borne out of a humanistic commitment to the well-being of society. The tears that accompany this plea are not just for the Kano case but for the collective spirit yearning for justice. In an ideal world, as a former colonial master, the need to adjudicate this case abroad would be unthinkable. Yet, the resounding outcry against the pervasive rot in our judiciary demands an extraordinary response. Despite the tears, there persists a fragile hope—a hope for a judiciary that rekindles trust, upholds ethical standards, and serves the people with unyielding integrity.

In the enthralling drama of Ariwoola's Supreme Court, justice and impartiality seem like mere extras in a political spectacle. Picture the Ariwoola-Tinubu court, the Ariwoola-Lawan court, and the Ariwoola-Ganduje court—a trilogy where the judiciary shares the stage with political titans. We have never had it so bad; it's a production that blurs the line between reality and theater, leaving us wondering if we've entered a political circus.

In this theatrical display, the solemn halls of justice have become entangled in a web of political drama, overshadowing the pursuit of truth. The fusion of the judiciary with political figures raises questions about autonomy in the judicial process. Amid these challenges, Justice Ariwoola and the judiciary must reflect deeply. It's not just about reviewing existing codes; there's an urgent need for a new, distinct code guiding justices' behavior, separate from NJC rules. The issues of politicization and a tarnished reputation demand fresh ethical guidelines, acting as a compass for justice and impartiality in a judiciary entangled with politics.

In this theatrical display, the solemn halls of justice have become entangled in a web of political drama, overshadowing the pursuit of truth. The fusion of the judiciary with political figures raises questions about autonomy in the judicial process. Amid these challenges, Justice Ariwoola and the judiciary must reflect deeply. It's not just about reviewing existing codes; there's an urgent need for a new, distinct code guiding justices' behavior, separate from NJC rules. The issues of politicization and a tarnished reputation demand fresh ethical guidelines, acting as a compass for justice and impartiality in a judiciary entangled with politics.

A pivotal step, perhaps a radical but necessary one, is the call for decentralization. The concentration of judicial power needs reevaluation. A decentralized system could mitigate the influence of a few and enhance local responsiveness. It may involve creating regional judicial bodies with autonomy, fostering a more diverse and independent judiciary. Such a move would contribute to rebuilding public trust, addressing concerns about politicization, and ensuring a fair and impartial legal system. Decentralization emerges as a strategic move to reshape the judicial landscape and restore faith in the administration of justice.

This plea for ethical reevaluation is more than a suggestion; it's a crucial step to rebuild the judiciary's credibility. It's an opportunity for Justice Ariwoola and colleagues to demonstrate commitment to transparency, accountability, and the restoration of public trust. Amid challenges, a new code symbolizes a transformative journey toward a respected and trusted judiciary.

In the face of the complex dynamics within the judiciary intertwined with political affiliations, the proposition to seek resolution in London gains prominence. Recognized for its judicial reliability, London becomes a viable alternative to address the challenges. Faced with a situation akin to a political drama, opting for an alternative forum is not just practical; it becomes a necessary step to safeguard the principles of justice and fairness.

The call for the Kano case in London echoes concerns about the compromised state of Nigeria's judiciary, as noted by retired Supreme Court judge Dajjito Mohammed. His remarks on the non-transparent nature of the Ariwoola-led court align with the broader sentiment that the judiciary is at a crossroads, threatening democratic values.

These concerns emphasize the judiciary's critical role in upholding justice and preserving the electoral process's credibility. The erosion of these principles undermines democracy and public trust. The psychological worry under Ariwoola's courts and the potential judicial collapse highlight the urgency for a robust and functioning judiciary to safeguard democratic values.

In this context, the proposal to take the Kano case to London symbolizes a lack of confidence in Nigeria's judiciary, aiming to restore trust and uphold justice and democracy.

So, let the curtains rise on this avant-garde performance, where the London proposal is not a flight of fancy but a daring response to the surreal reality of a judiciary entangled in political influence. It's a call to liberate justice from the confines of political drama and restore it to its rightful place—a sanctuary of impartiality. In the face of the Ariwoola-led court's theatrics, the need to explore London as a resolution venue remains a compelling conclusion, presenting an opportunity to rebuild public trust in the judiciary's unraveling plot.

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Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria, to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American-based police and prison scientist and forensic, clinical, and legal psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical psychological services in the USA; and a former interim associate dean and assistant professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings. In 2011, he introduced state-of-the-art forensic psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C. and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. He has taught at various universities and colleges including Florida memorial University, Florida International University, Broward college, Lynn University, and a contributing faculty member at the Weldios university in Benin Republic, Nexus International University, Uganda, Nova Southeastern University and Walden University in USA. He is a Human Rights Psychologist with a focus on African related environments. [email protected]