Nigeria's Elites Influence Appointment of Judges, Damaging Judiciary - Osinbajo

Lady Justice

The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, has criticised the habit of Nigerian elites influencing the appointment of judges.

He disclosed that the major reason for such interest is to get favour, warning that "if we leave it to the system that is going on at the moment; we are clearly headed in the wrong direction because interest whether private, political or group influences how judges are appointed."

The vice president, a professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said this on Saturday at a webinar themed "Selection and appointment of judges: Lessons for Nigeria".

The programme was organised by Justice Research Institute (JRI) and monitored by TheCable Newspaper.

Many Nigerian judges have been accused of corruption and miscarriage of justice due to alleged pressure from authorities and vested interests.

The acts, and others, make many Nigerians doubt the integrity of the nation's judicial system.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Osinbajo was quoted as saying: "We have elites and when I speak of elites, I speak of the Nigerian elites both political, religious, commercial/business etc. Everyone wants to get ahead, we want to own things, we want to control things and we want to own the judges too."

He maintained that while the elites show interest in the appointment of judges, they also pressure the government into considering their version of federal character.

"So the federal character is no longer necessarily seen as choosing the best from a particular zone or a particular state; it is the interest in that state or that zone who want to further their own purposes that would want to come together to ensure that the person who is appointed is not necessarily the best, but he is the one that is most suited to their own purposes."

Mr Osinbajo criticised this act saying it is "the problem that we have" because elites want everything to work in their favour.

He spoke on the need for a clear separation of powers and said the best judicial officers should be appointed at all levels without interference.

"If we leave it to the system that is going on at the moment; we are clearly headed in the wrong direction because interest whether the private, political or group influences how judges are appointed", he said. "We must agree to an objective process to rigorously examine, test and interview all of those who want to come forward as judges."

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