Who is the law?

The fact that the government, both FG and states, don’t think that the JUSUN strike is an issue, is alarming. The implications are too many and too grievous.

I’m quoting word for word from today’s SBM newsletter.

In the first instance, the primary function of government is not merely to secure the lives and property of its constituents, but also to ensure the fair and quick adjudication of disputes between people, groups and entities. This fundamental remit is what the Nigerian state continues to fail abysmally to deliver for its people.

The result is three-fold: some resort to self-help, others submit themselves to non-state actors to obtain justice, while foreign investors who hold a distinct preference for sturdy formal channels recoil at the speed of the adjudicatory process. The loss in terms of investment capital that does not come into the country cannot be quantified. All three scenarios ultimately degrade the legitimacy of the state itself.

The JUSUN strike is happening against the backdrop of a broader conversation about the devolution of powers to Nigeria’s constituent units and judicial autonomy is a key part of that conversation. At the public hearings on the review of the 1999 Constitution, several submissions proposed that states have appeal courts and even supreme courts to hasten the administration of justice. These proposals convey the urgency of the situation as well as popular appetite for these reforms.

Attorney-General Abubakar Malami said last year that the Federal Government can withhold the allocations of states that go against President Buhari’s executive order on judicial and legislative autonomy. The states say this is yet another example of federal overreach. This is a threat the FG may have to make good on, in order for the JUSUN strike to be called off and for the courts to resume work. It is in the interest of everyone for this to be resolved in the shortest possible time.

Guys, think about it: courts have been shut for 60 days and we are not all freaking out?

Is that, in itself, not a comment about how lawless Nigeria really is?

Or could it be that Nigeria really isn’t lawless, but rather, it is a different set of actors that are the Law?



Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.

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Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.