Today being 24th April 2024 and tomorrow being 25th April 2024, there will be a National Summit on Justice 2024.The theme of the summit is repositioning the justice system: constitutional, statutory, and operational reforms for access and efficiency.

This summit is being organised by the Hon, the Attorney General of the Federation, in collaboration with other stakeholders. Eminent legal practitioners and other personalities who are beneficiaries of the kind of justice system we have have been invited and they will speak and profer solutions.

For me and other eminent lawyers and personalities who may not be fortunate to have the opportunity of attending the submit since it is strictly by invitation it is necessary to make some few comments here hoping that those who have the responsibility to do what is right will read our contributions and then have the benefits of what I think is responsible for the kind of justice we get in Nigeria.

First, let me commend the Hon, the Attorney-General of the Federation for the initiative. It is good. That we can gather and speak is good. But we need to think deeper and reflect on why our laws, including our constitution, are not working.

I think there is nothing inherently wrong with our laws and the constitution in Nigeria.The problem with our systems is the Nigerian in us. We have, as a people, paid too much lip services to the rule of law and due processes.There is nothing wrong with the laws we have. Good laws are being operated by bad people.

There is everything wrong with the operators of our laws. We have chosen to disregard our laws, and everyone in power is above the law. Everyone who should show respect and fidelity to the law has no such respect and fidelity. Nobody respects the laws of Nigeria, including, of course, some of those who will be gathering to pontificate in that conference. Our laws prohibit writing of electoral results. Our political actors do so with impunity.

Our laws are against stealing public funds. Public officers in most cases steal with impunity. Our law does not support impunity. But impunity reigns Supreme in Nigeria. Our law prohibits extortions. We see extortionists in virtually everywhere in Nigeria. Nigerians beat traffic light with impunity. No respect for law and order.

Take our criminal justice, for instance. We have enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 for speedy criminal justice administration. That law is being breached in obedience by all. The bar produces the bench. We have some members of the bar who do not want the merit of the matters in courts examined.

They engaged in raising jurisdictional issues to confuse the bench even when the law has set out that issues of jurisdiction and other objections shall be heard along with substantive matters under ACJA. The practice of law does not allow merit of cases to be examined. Lawyers do all sort of things to the prejudices of purity of justice contrary to professional ethics. So nothing wrong with our laws. It is the Nigerian in us that has produced the kind of justice we have.

Most defence lawyers do not want matters to proceed to trial on the merit. Why do we have this attitude of not wanting the merit of the matters examined in our courts. Most high-profile criminal trials are stalled because most defence lawyers do not allow trials to go on. We owe higher duty as lawyers to society. We must assist our courts in delivering justice to society.

I really do not know why some people think we are too gullible in this country that they can contrive so many stories to cover their iniquities. Everything is politicised, including criminal prosecution. Nigeria state can not effectively prosecute politically exposed persons without politics being read into it. Nigeria is the only country I know that we play politics without governance until another election. So sad.

So, as we gathered to profer solutions, let us examine ourselves and our attitudes.We have no respect for law and order.We have no respect for the rule of law. We have no respect for the Nigerian constitution. Nigerian governments across the board have no respect for laws. Government does not respect judicial decisions and even the judiciary itself.The judiciary too must respect itself.

Those who are in charge of government in the three departments of government have no respect for law and order. They act with impunity, and there are no consequences. This is the bane of our society. Those in power should lead by examples. Obey the laws of the land. Apply sanctions without fear or favours. There should be no sacred cows.
Those who have been given power to decide should do so without political colourations. It is submitted in conclusion that we are where we are because of whom we are. I wish us well.

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