Professor Akinseye Identifies Factors Capable of Undermining Survival of Nigeria’s Democracy 

• Justice Ariwoola, Prince Fabgemi, Okoro, Akinseye, Hayatu bag NIALS’ Honorary Fellowship 

• DG, Prof. Ladan, Thanks P-BAT, Gives Justification for the Conferment of Fellowship on Honorees.

By Waziri Isa Adam

The Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Social – Legal Studies, Abuja, Professor Yemi Akinseye George (SAN) has identified factors capable of undermining the survival of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

“These factors”, according to the legal icon, “include failure to provide access to justice for the majority of Nigeria’s population, which is mostly as a result of government’s inaction, the peoples’ ignorance, lack of confidence in the judiciary and government’s inability to protect the people and provide effective redress for the gross violations of human rights, which is an early indicator of a drift towards state failure, among other factors”.

Professor Akinseye who was the Guest Lecturer of the Founders’ Day Ceremony, spoke on “Access to Justice and Sustenance of Democracy: – what Nexus?, Stressed that “Unless Nigeria pays closer attention to the rising wave of violence fueled by injustice in the country, the future of democracy is not guaranteed”.

Prof Yemi Akinseye George (SAN), Guest Lecturer

He also said the protracted and unrelenting agitation for restructuring and self-determination by some federating units in the country ought to be viewed not as a nuisance, but, as an occasion to address the complaints of system injustice which pervade the system.

The Senior Advocate who lamented that the Nigerian political elites have since 1999 persisted in ignoring the voices of the masses of the country and their cries for social and economic justice, posited that, one way to restore the country to the path of peace and progress is to improve the access of the greater majority of Nigerians, not only to the courts of law, but, also to justice in real terms.

Drawing inference from the recent truncation of power by the military in Mali, Burkina faso and Niger Republic, Professor Akinseye cautioned that the rulers and people of Nigeria must be gravely concerned about the resurgence of military interventions in Africa (although condemnable) which all happened fully as a result of injustice, coupled with the recent unraveling of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after nearly 50 years of existence, “this unfortunate development must be regarded as a warning signal that no group or geopolitical entity is too big to fall”. He warned.

The DG, Prof Ladan (second from right) with the Five honorees

Professor Akinseye regretted that because of peoples’ disdain or lack of confidence in the Nigerian courts due to their palpable inability to resolve matters quickly, they have adopted the expression, “Go to court!” which is not an expression of faith in the justice system.

“Gone were the days when people feared the courts of law. Indeed, nowadays many people take their cases to court of law not to be resolved, but to be held up indefinitely. Except probably in election petitions which must be resolved within 180 days, most cases filed in the courts often suffer interminable delays, a situation that has led to the common saying, “The problem is not about access to the courts, but about exit therefrom”.

Defining or explaining the term, ‘Access to Justice (AJ)’, for the understanding of the layman, the learned Professor said the term refers to the extent to which people are able to enjoy the benefits of the legal system or the system of administration of justice.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola (middle) during his investiture by Chairman of the occasion and Chairman NIALS Body of Fellows, Retired Hon Justice Umaru Abdullahi (left) while DG NIALS, Prof MT Ladan supports him

Professor Akinseye argued that there must be a deliberate effort by the various governments to broaden access to economic and social justice by addressing the problems of poverty and social exclusion which lock the majority of the people outside the justice system.

The legal luminary however said the obligation to create conditions conducive to achieving access to justice is not exclusive to the judiciary. All organs of government are required to ensure the realization of goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which talks about promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

He therefore reiterated that it is for this reason that the executive and the legislative branches of the government must be engaged as the judiciary, in providing access to justice for all. “This includes providing improved allocation of resources to the judiciary and access to other justice platforms”, he stressed.

Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court (Left) DG NIALS Pof Ladan (middle) and Hon Justice Umaru Abdullahi (right)

Meanwhile, after the lecture, the next events outlined to mark the Founders’ Day were conferment of honorary institute fellowship 2024 on five eminent legal luminaries and scholars that comprised of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Prince Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN, Hon. Justice Inyang John Okoro, JSC, Professor Yemi Akinseye George, SAN, and Professor Isa Hayatu Ciroma, SAN; and the unveiling of NIALS’ 8 Volumes Compendium of Federal Acts 2004-2023 with an index.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director General of the Institute, Professor Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan, thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his unparallelled commitments towards supporting the institute in its quest to meet its mandate and for his readiness to support it with resources needed to complete the construction of its permanent site, which will pave way for NIALS’ immediate relocation thereto.

The Director General who provided justification for the 2024 NIALS fellowship conferment on the five honorees said all the honorees have been consistent with NIALS mandate to promote advanced legal research in current and emerging field of law and enhance the capacity of justice sector personnel and institutions in Nigeria.

Professor Yemi Akinseye George (third from right) during his investiture

“The five honorees have also uniquely contributed to the development of Nigerian Law and jurisprudence through administration of justice, legal scholarship, legal practice and policy development and implementation” Professor Ladan revealed.

Also, in his remarks, the Chairman of NIALS Governing Council, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who was one of the honorees said the institute which was established by statute in 1979, and had since blossomed into a robust national institution of international repute, which in the last 40 years of its existence, has carefully selected eminent jurists and distinguished legal scholars who have essentially contributed to the development of Nigerian Law and Jurisprudence through administration of justice, legal scholarship, law and policy implementation and the research and capacity building activities of the institute.

In his special remarks, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, prince Lateef O. Fagbemi described his selection as one of the honorees of NIALS Fellowship as a great honour, a national responsibility, and a privilege to wear the cap that the founding fathers of NIALS, especially eminent jurist like the late Justice Tashim Olawale Elias, all the former Chief Justices of Nigeria, legal luminaries and distinguished senior legal practitioners in Nigeria.

Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (middle) during his investiture

The minister commended the governing council of NIALS under the leadership of his lordship, the CJN, for providing all the necessary support for the management of the institute led by the Director General, Professor Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan, to discharge their function professionally and excellently, which is evident in the institutes unique contributions to the development of Nigerian law through advanced legal research and capacity building of justice sector institutions, nationwide.

“I am particularly honoured to be asked by the management to unveil the institute’s foundation work for law revision, of especially, the laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004, that is 20 years overdue for updating. Having provided me with this golden opportunity as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation to unveil the eight volumes of a compendium of Federal Act and Regulations in Force, officially gazetted, from 2004 to 2023 with professionally arranged index to the volumes 1-8 of the compendium, I felt the need to carry forward the revision of the LFN 2004, that is 20 years old due for updating in order to reflect the over 200 new federal legislations that are in scattered pieces, needing consolidation in one set of body of laws to be known as LFN 2024”. The Minister revealed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *