Justice As The Bedrock of Democracy In Nigeria (1) -By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
Two weeks in the past, I used to be a visitor speaker on the Annual Legislation Week of the Nigerian Bar Affiliation, Ibadan Department. I had the privilege of talking on the necessary matter of Justice because the bedrock of a permanent democracy. Totally different individuals have totally different ideas of justice, relying at all times, on the circumstances and certainly the setting. However the common concept of doing proper to all method of individuals, the idea of fairness and equity, to offer to 1 what is because of him and to not deny individuals their rights, give the broad define of what justice ought to be, at the very least to all mankind. Let me share the contents of my lecture with you.
The theme of this presentation couldn’t have come at a greater time than now, when our nation appears to be gasping for breath, within the space of justice supply. Nigeria has ‘experimented’ with uninterrupted democracy for effectively over 20 years, for the reason that return to democratic rule on Could 29, 1999. Due to this fact the time period ‘democracy’, is acquainted to most Nigerians, particularly my esteemed realized viewers, with whom I now share my ideas via this paper. I can’t nonetheless vouch with due respect that the majority Nigerians, particularly the ruling elite, absolutely perceive the that means and modus operandi of democracy.
MEANING OF DEMOCRACY
From the simplistic however articulate definition of Abraham Lincoln of democracy as “the federal government of the individuals, by the individuals and for the individuals” to James Roland Pennock, who in his e-book ‘Democratic Idea’ outlined democracy as “Authorities by the individuals, the place liberty, equality and fraternity are secured to the best doable diploma and by which human capacities are developed to the utmost, by means together with free and full dialogue of widespread issues and pursuits”, a standard pattern that runs via the idea of democracy, is that democracy is a type of authorities, that locations the individuals on the centre and by which selections by elected representatives, should mirror the needs of nearly all of the residents.
In essence, democracy is a system of presidency that operates throughout the guidelines of legislation, that respect the rights of residents to dissent with authorities with out worry of harassment and the place the elemental rights of residents are assured and guarded by the State. In my introduction above, I intentionally averted the usage of the time period ‘follow’ in relation to democracy in Nigeria and in modesty, opted for the phrase “experimented’ for some apparent causes. Nigeria can’t in equity ascribe itself with the toga of democracy, just because the President or Governors will not be placing on camouflage. It can’t additionally lay declare to democracy on the premise that each 4 years elections which can’t meet the take a look at of democracy, are performed by INEC (the electoral umpire) in most elements of the nation, whereas within the native authorities elections, the get together which controls the State governments should of necessity win all of the native councils in that State. The form of democracy being experimented in Nigeria can as effectively go as civil rule and no extra.
The form of Nigerian democracy is effectively captured by the columnist Israel Ejike, in his article titled “Nigeria’s definition of Democracy” revealed in Thisday newspaper of October 14, 2018 thus:
“Nigeria’s democracy will be outlined as a system of presidency the place a gaggle of political enterprise women and men specialised in utilizing tokens and delightful guarantees to advertise ambition of chosen enterprise managers to preside over affairs of the nation or state authorities. These people execute their sport of deception by hiring thugs specifically advisable for rigging, wrangling the voters in elections. Safety operatives on this system of presidency grow to be observers within the rigging course of. The wealthy cabal after declaring themselves or stooges winners, sit again and feast on the commonwealth of the individuals. If the individuals dare protest unhealthy governance, they are going to be handled as criminals.”
He goes additional in his description thus:
From the sombre definition of democratic follow above, it’s legitimate to incorporate; non-payment of salaries for civil servants as a norm, solely private tasks of these elected get accomplished, public tasks exist on paper or deserted. Voices of dissent are crushed, the structure is generally jettisoned. A real image of Nigeria’s specifically tailor-made democratic follow is overseen by the ruling cabals – a gaggle of particular deities who as soon as dominated Nigeria beneath the navy or civilians who as soon as participated in professional democratic protests beneath navy rule. These particular energy blocs select a most well-liked candidate, who might be considered one of them or a mentee usually referred to as “anointed candidate”. After their alternative is debriefed, the cabals establish with a political get together of alternative and the remainder is historical past.
Can anybody fault Ejike’s definition of the ‘Nigerian Democracy” when he additional describes it thus?
“The system is looted dry earlier than they depart, after they do, they handover to a political son to proceed the method of looting over again. Our house grown democracy will not be with out supporters. These supporters might be anyone however the attention-grabbing group, are educated people who’ve conscripted themselves to licensed hypocrites, sycophants or blackmailers. Some are paid, others simply be a part of the bandwagon. The nation can burn for all they care. These platoons of goons are specialists in making unhealthy leaders look good. They’re at all times able to promote different views wherever insurance policies of their liege draw flaks from proper pondering individuals. They’re the gasoline that retains empty, inept leaders’ locomotive practice operating.”
With out prejudice to the view canvassed above, my utilization of the phrase ‘experiment’ then again is a sign of hope. Hope within the potential of the Nigerian State to develop a full democratic system within the governance of our Nation. This hope is constructed on the truth that the follow of democracy is a journey. A journey which the American activist Michael places thus: “Democracy will not be a spectator’s sport. It’s a participatory occasion. If we don’t take part, it ceases to be democracy.”
THE CONCEPT OF JUSTICE
At this juncture, I invite you to hitch us as we interrogate the idea of justice. What’s justice, if I could ask? What was it that prophet Amos meant when he stated “let justice roll like water and righteousness like streams of dwelling water? (Amos 5:24). On the outset, it might appear that it’s a quite simple idea to outline, nonetheless when positioned within the context of various societies, circumstances and private idiosyncrasies, one can’t however proceed to ponder on what justice actually means.
This identical debacle of definition was confronted by early philosophers and writers. For example,Plato sees justice as “a advantage establishing rational order, with every half performing its acceptable function and never interfering with the right functioning of different elements.” For Aristotle, justice “consists in what’s lawful and honest, with equity involving equitable distributions and the correction of what’s inequitable.” Kant defines justice as “a advantage whereby we respect others’ freedom, autonomy, and dignity by not interfering with their voluntary actions, as long as these don’t violate others’ rights.” Mill sees justice as a collective identify for a very powerful social utilities, that are conducive to fostering and defending human liberty.
From the varied definitions and perceptions highlighted above, it might be right to claim that the true notion of justice relies on the circumstance, location, orientation and beliefs of those that clamour for it. In abstract, justice is giving every one within the society what is because of him. I do hope that we will say this of the current state of affairs of Nigeria, at the very least going by the ‘visitations’ to the temples of justice throughout the EndSARS protests. The picture of the younger man adorning the wig and robe, with an enormous machete in his palms, proper contained in the courtroom premises, provides us the thought of his expectation for immediate justice; one by which circumstances might be determined promptly and with out the standard delays.
Although very unpalatable watching the desecration of the temple of justice by those that want it most, some laborious classes should have been handed to us the stakeholders, specifically that society is dissatisfied with the form of justice system that we have now bequeathed to them from the colonialists, which is only elitist and unable to cater to the wants of the plenty of our individuals. Allow us to for as soon as then really feel what others really feel, in regards to the justice system in Nigeria, whereby litigants die earlier than justice may attain them or they get judgment devoid of justice, on the finish of the day.
The problem then is to search out what must be achieved, to ensure justice to our individuals, if all of us agree that it’s the bedrock of democracy. And it needs to be so, as a result of the choice to justice can’t be imagined in any respect. The rule of may has by no means endured in any sane society, as arbitrariness, impunity and lawlessness will take over and the thought of democracy will solely then be a mirage, stated to be alien to Africa, whereas within the early days of our forefathers, the indigenous democratic system labored effectively for them in all ramifications. The problem is to mix our mannequin with these of the opposite areas.
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