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Robes on tight ropes : the judicialisation of politics in Nigeria

Yusuf, Hakeem (2008) Robes on tight ropes : the judicialisation of politics in Nigeria. Global Jurist, 8 (2). pp. 1-33.

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This account of judicialised politics in the Nigerian transition experience examines the regulation of the judiciary of the political space, through the resolution of intergovernmental contestations in a dysfunctional federation. It analyses the judicialisation of elite power disputes which have resonance for due process and the rule of law in particular and governance in general. A study of the role of the judiciary in stabilising the country, itself a pivot in the West Africa region in particular and Africa in general, is important. This is especially in view of its classification as a ‘weak state,’ despite its enormous human and natural resources. The analyses here suggest the Supreme Court has taken a strategic position in the task of democratic institutional building and the reinstitution of the rule of law in the country. This strategic measure has received the acclaim of the public. However, the account also discloses that the judiciary, in the course of its numerous interventions, has been drawn into overly political disputes that overreach its jurisprudential preferences. Of even more significance, it demonstrates that the judiciary is itself still challenged by institutional dysfunctions constituting part of the legacies of the authoritarian era. The situation leads back to the need for closer scrutiny of the judicial function in transitional societies.