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Nigerian judiciary weak, corrupt, compromised by Executive branch of govt – Peter Obi

Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, has criticized the current state of the Nigerian judiciary, calling it weak and compromised by the executive branch and the highest bidder. Speaking at the Justice Anthony Aniagolu Memorial Lecture organized by the Aniagolu family and hosted by Godfrey Okoye University (GOUNI) in Enugu, Obi reflected on his past experiences with the judiciary when it was more robust and independent.

During his lecture titled “The Judiciary and The Future of Nigeria,” Obi recounted his political battles in Anambra State. He explained that after winning the governorship election, another candidate was declared the winner, prompting him to seek justice in court. “I spent three years in court, and justice was given to me. After a few months, I was impeached, but the judiciary restored me to power. After one year in office, another election was conducted, and a different person was elected. I went to the Supreme Court, where judges with respect for the rule of law reinstated me to complete my tenure,” Obi said, attributing these successes to incorruptible and independent judges.

Obi lamented that such jurists are rare in today’s Nigeria, asserting, “Our judiciary is weak and compromised by the executive and the highest bidder.”

He emphasized that the future of society is at risk because the judiciary’s independence has been undermined. “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. A strong judiciary is essential for businesses, investments, and democracy to thrive,” Obi stated.

He argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not Nigeria’s primary problem but rather the judiciary, which often disappoints those seeking justice. Obi noted that weak institutions result from a lack of a strong judiciary where litigants can report wrongdoings and expect fair outcomes.

As a solution, Obi advocated for the judiciary’s independence and non-interference from the executive. He highlighted his own tenure as governor, during which he refrained from appointing judges, leaving that responsibility to the Chief Judge. “I bought cars for them but never appointed any judge throughout my tenure,” he noted.

Obi also praised Justice Anthony Aniagolu’s exemplary life and career, noting his significant contributions to Nigerian law.

Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah, represented by Health Commissioner Emmanuel Obi, described the lecture as timely and highlighted the state’s efforts to create an enabling environment for businesses through legal reforms.

GOUNI Vice Chancellor Christian Anieke lauded Aniagolu as an “erudite jurist and incorruptible judge” and thanked Obi for delivering the memorial lecture, noting the shared values and commitment to integrity and democracy between Obi and the late Aniagolu.

Chukwuemeka Aniagolu, the late jurist’s son, expressed gratitude to Obi, the university, and the guests for honoring his father’s legacy and contributions to Nigeria’s judiciary.

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