That the judiciary has made remarkable impact in the build up to Nigeria’s nationhood is to say the least in the mildest way. It has adeptly demonstrated this even during the first republic when Nigeria was running parliamentary system of government.
Justice Adetokunbo Adegboyega Ademola KBE, GCFR, PC, SAN (1906-1993) was appointed first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeriaon April 1, 1958, replacing Sir Stafford Foster Sutton who was retiring and retired in 1972, becoming the longest serving CJN in Nigeria till date. He cofounded the Nigerian Law School with Justice Teslim Elias who later succeeded him.
In 1955, a year before Western Nigeria became internally self-governing, Sir Adetokunbo was appointed Chief Justice of Western Nigeria, thus becoming the first Nigerian head of the judiciary anywhere in the country. His string of ‘firsts’ continued when, three years later, he became the first CJN.
The colonial government sidestepped Justice Olumuyiwa AJibowu, first indigenous Supreme Court Justice, and appointed Adetokunbo CJN in 1958, following the abolition of the West African Court of Appeal (WACA), triggered by Ghanaian independence in 1957. Adetokunbo’s time as the CJN spanned both the colonial and the independent eras, making him the bridge between the colonial era and Nigeria as an independent state.
As Chief Justice, he played the role of peacemaker in two political events in the country. In 1964, after the stalemate of national elections, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the president refused to call any party to form a government until the intervention of Louis Mbanefo, the Chief Justice of the Eastern region and Justice Ademola. In the first military coup d’etat in Nigeria in 1966, it was Adetokunbo Ademola who, with the British High Commissioner in Lagos, saved Nigeria from disintegration.
When Major-General Thomas Aguyi Ironsi, an Ibo, who had become head of state after the coup which ended the first Nigerian republic, was himself overthrown in a counter-coup led by northern officers, the intention of the north was to leave Nigeria. The northerners had already started sending their families across the river Niger back home, following the controversial statement made on national broadcast by Lt-Col Yakubu Gowon, who replaced Ironsi as head of state that the basis for Nigerian unity was not there. Gowon was going to announce that the north was seceding from Nigeria, but, realising the damage this would cause, decided to cut his speech; the speech was edited, but badly edited; and that unfortunate phrase stayed in the broadcast. Adetokunbo retired from the bench in 1972.
It has been observed that the absence of election petitions tribunals in 1959 and 1964 largely attributed to the near unmanageable crisis which trailed the federal elections conducted in those years.
On December 12, 1959, a federal election into the federal House of Representatives was conducted to usher in the country’s independence on October 1, 1960. While Azikiwe and Awolowo relinquished their premiership to Michel Opara and S.L.Akintola respectively to go to the federal level in Lagos, their counterpart in the north, the Sardauna of Sokoto did not leave, thus leaving the federal level to his deputy, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Both Awolowo and Azikwe took part in this federal election with their desire to become the first prime minister of an independent Nigeria.
The result showed that out of a total 7,628,847 votes cast, voter turnout of 79.5%, Action Group had 1,992,364 (26.1%) and won 73 out of a total 312 seats. NPC got 1,922,179 (25.2%) votes but won 134 seats out of the 312 seats. NCNC won 89 seats as well. NPC formed a coalition with five other parties and two independents, holding a total of 148 seats.
However, the NPC and the NCNC formed a coalition government in which Balewa became Prime Minister of the independent Nigeria while Azikiwe became the Governor-General. Awolowo settled for the position of Leader of Opposition in the Federal House of Representatives while the deputy leader of the Action Group, Chief SL Akintola, remained premier of the Western Region. Although, if there was an election petition tribunal Awolowo would have opted to contest the election result because he felt he won the highest number of votes during the election while the NPC won the highest number of seats in the country.
On December 30, 1964, elections were held in the Northern Region, in many parts of the West and in some parts of the Mid West. They were completely boycotted in the East. The results that were eventually released showed that the N.N.A. had won 198 seats and the U.P.G.A only 40 seats.
As a result of massive boycott of the 1964 general elections in some parts of Western, Midwestern and Eastern regions, the elections were not held until March 18, 1965. It was an election that took the country to the brink and even kick-started the crisis that eventually snowballed into the 30-month Nigeria/Biafra war.
Judiciary In 1st Republic
Shortly after independence on October 1st, 1960, Nigeria witnessed political turbulence in the governance of the Western Region of the country.
On October 1, Prime Minister Balewa in a nation-wide broadcast told the nation that his government had been aware for some time of violent intentions of certain politicians to forcefully overthrow the legitimate government in Nigeria, and that they had been undergoing military training abroad. On October 26, the ban on public meetings and processions was extended to cover the whole of Western Nigeria. On November 2, 1962, Chief Awolowo was formally charged with 26 others (including Anthony Enahoro, Sam Ikoku, Ayo Adebanjo, Lateef Jakande, Alfred Rewane, J.S. Tarka, Josiah Olawoyin, Dr. Oladipo Maja, Bisi Onabanjo, James Aluko, etc) with conspiring to overthrow the Federal Government by force.
The accused persons were charged on three counts (including treason) in the High Court in Lagos before presiding trial Judge Justice George Sodeinde Sowemimo.
After a long trial, on September 11, 1963, Chief Awolowo was pronounced guilty of all charges, becoming a convicted person. As customary, the convict was asked to say anything he wished – that is deliver his “allocutus” – after the verdict but before sentence was passed, in the event that there might be something he said to mitigate the sentence. Chief Awolowo was jailed 10 years.
Justice Sowemimo had this to say while sentencing Chief Awolowo to prison on 11 September 1963 in State v Awolowo, ors).
“….Whatever others may say, this is my personal view. I am not speaking as a judge but as a Nigerian. Here we have one of the first Premiers of the autonomous region standing trial. If you were the only one before me, I would have felt that it was enough for you to have undergone the strain of the trial. I would have asked you to go. But I am sorry; I cannot do so now because my hands are tied. —But this is a political crime. There are things which one may never know. All I know is what is before me and I am bound by the evidence’’. That was the birth of the famous ‘’my hands are tired’’.
On January 1, 1963, Chief Akintola returned to Ibadan to head the coalition government of his party, the United Peoples Party and the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), and announced his cabinet members.
Alhaji Adegbenro sued S.L. Akintola, saying he was entitled to the seat of the premier. The case lost by Alhaji Adegbenro before the Nigerian Supreme Court in July 1962 finally wound its way to judgement delivery by the Privy Council in England.
Leave was granted by the Federal Supreme Court to Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro to appeal to the Privy Council in London against the court’s decision dismissing his two motions. The court also granted Alhaji Adegbenro final leave to appeal to the Privy Council against the decision of the court that the Oni of Ife, suspended Governor of the Region, acted unconstitutionally in dismissing Chief S.L. Akintola from office as Premier of the Region. On May 27, 1963 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council gave its judgement. The Council held that Chief Akintola’s dismissal was valid thereby maintaining Alhaji Adegbenro’s claim to the Premiership.
Giving judgement for the Privy, Lord Radcliff said that the Nigerian Federal Supreme Court had by a majority decision denied that the Governor could validly exercise the power to remove a Premier from office except in consequence of proceedings from the floor of the House of Assembly. This Lord Radcliff said had not answered the further question whether such a removal was possible on the basis of any material or information extraneous to the proceedings of the House of Assembly.
Quoting relevant sections of the Western Nigerian Constitution, Lord Radcliff concluded that no limitation of the statutory power of the Governor in exercising his right to dismiss a Premier could be found in the words of the constitution which said in section 33(10) that “the Governor shall remove the Premier from office if it appears to him that the Premier no longer commands the support of the majority of the members of the House of Assembly.” These words according to the Lord indicated that the judgement of the support enjoyed by a Premier was left to the Governor’s own assessment, and there was no limitation as to the material on which he was to base his judgement or the contacts to which he was to base his judgement, or the contactto which he might resort for the purpose.
Judiciary Under Military Rule
Nigeria has had a checkered history in which democratic form of governance was substituted for military authoritarian rule virtually for three decades after her independence on October 1, 1960.
Twice in its history the army had seized power from democratic government and on each occasion claimed to do so in order to uphold and maintain the rule of law.
Constitutional theory commonly holds that a supreme constitution is a sine qua non for the rule of law to prevail in a federal polity.
The necessity for constitutional supremacy has been a feature of Nigerian constitutions and has been restated in the very first section of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (the Constitution). Section 1 (1) provides that the Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Call this the ‘Supremacy Clause.’ Section 1(2) states that the country must be governed only in accordance with the Constitution. In apparent unequivocal reinforcement of the Supremacy Clause, section 1(3) further provides that in the event any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, “this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
The military in some instances suspended parts of the Constitution and, in others, passed decrees that it declared (and were judicially upheld) as superior to it
Throughout the military era, the judiciary hovered between complicity and complacency in the controlling governance of the country while maintaining its position as the only state organ that did not experience institutional truncation or disruption.
The country has now had its longest experience of civil governance in its post-independence history. But there are hang-over effects. Rising crime rates, poverty, unemployment, the deplorable state of social infrastructure, and the failure of justice measures for past victims of gross violations of human rights have all challenged an otherwise welcome political transition.
Under the military government, the Supremacy Clause in successive constitutions of the country was, however, continually abrogated or suspended by military legislation for the better part of three decades. Displeased by the attempt to interfere with its self-ascribed legislative supremacy in E O Lakanmi and Kikelomo Ola v The Attorney-General (Western state), The Secretary to the Tribunal (Investigation of Assets Tribunal) and the Counsel to the Tribunal (Lakanmi case), successive military regimes ensured passage of a military legislative supremacy decree as the first piece of legislation enacted after each coup d’etat in the country.
In that case of Lakanmi v. The Attorney General (West), the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that the events of 15-16 January 1966 resulted in the hand-over of government to the military, which was not outside the terms of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Court reasoned that although the manner of the cession of power to the military was unusual, it could be excused on the grounds of necessity and, being constitutional, bound the succeeding military regime to respect the constitution. Holding that the old constitutional order was still preserved in spite of the cession, the court continued:
‘’We venture to put the attitude of the Acting President and the Council of Ministers to the head of the army thus –‘your men have started a rebellion, which we fear may spread; you have the means to deal with them. We leave it to you to deal with them and after this, return the administrative power of the government to us’’, the Supreme Court held.
The regime promptly nullified the effect of this Supreme Court decision through the Federal Military Government decree.
Illustrative of this legislative aberration is the Constitution Suspension and Modification Decree No.1 of 1966 (the Supremacy Decree), which provided: “… the Federal Military Government shall have powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria or any part thereof with respect to any matter whatsoever.” Modifying the 1963 Constitution then in operation, section 1 (1) of the Supremacy Decree further provided:
‘’This Constitution shall have force throughout Nigeria …provided that this Constitution shall not prevail over a decree, and nothing in this Constitution shall render any provision of a decree void to any extent whatsoever’’.
This provision which was repeated in successive decrees ensured that military regimes asserted the supremacy of their legislation over provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
After an initial halfhearted attempt at rescuing the principle of constitutional supremacy from the assault of military rule, the Supreme Court succumbed to blowing muted judicial (and constitutional) “trumpets” for the better part of three decades. Thus, with the acquiescence of the judiciary, emergency legislation and exceptionalism became instituted as standard mode of governance in the country. However, with the advent of political change, the Courts’ revert to their power of ‘’judicial review’’ have become more assertive of the imperative of constitutional supremacy, particularly in the resolution of intergovernmental disputes and political contestations, a prominent aspect of the 20 years of uninterrupted democratic practice in Nigeria between 1999 and 2019. This has particularly ensured the sustenance of the democracy in the longest time ever in the country. A number of cases decided by the Supreme Court which is constitutionally recognized to adjudicate on intergovernmental matters illustrate this point.
In Attorney General of Abia State & 2 Ors v Attorney General of the Federation and Ors (Revenue Monitoring case), the issue before the Court was the constitutionality of the Local Government Revenue Monitoring Act passed by the National Assembly. The plaintiff states argued that the Act, which provided for direct disbursement of local government allocations from the federal account and monitoring of the process by federal authorities, amounted to undue interference with their powers over the matter of local government political and fiscal administration as recognized under section 7, among others, of the Constitution.
The main purpose of the Revenue Monitoring Act was purportedly to ensure allocations from the Federation Account were properly distributed to the local governments. This was an important policy objective considering that the deplorable state of infrastructure in the country is largely traceable to misappropriation of public funds. There was a need for initiatives to check corruption in the country. Local authorities have had a notoriously poor record of performance in governance over the years and the proper delivery of federal allocations which forms the bulk of their resources was an important factor in the state of affairs.
The Court upheld the case of the plaintiffs. It emphasized that legislative action, no matter how laudable, must be kept within constitutionally prescribed limits, because legislative powers and functions are “not at large.” Justice Niki Tobi in the lead judgment emphasized the significance of the Supremacy Clause, which mandates all three arms of government to conform to the provisions of the Constitution. Referring to various dicta in Attorney-General of Ondo State v Attorney-General of the Federation and Others (ICPC case), the Court reiterated its support for the anticorruption policy of the political branch. It however maintained that the initiative must be conducted within constitutionally sanctioned limits.
Another Nigerian Judiciary Sad Experience
Integrity and perhaps the reputation of nation’s judiciary was torn to shreds at the twilight of June 12, 1993 presidential election and shortly after, when deluge of suits were filed to halt the election as well as urging it to be conducted.
It all began with the June 11, 1993 night-time ruling of Justice Bassey Ikpeme which ordered the then electoral umpire not to conduct the presidential election billed to hold the following day. Barr Bassey Ikpeme was a practicing lawyer in General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Clement Akpamgb’s law firm. She was appointed a justice of the FCT High Court few days before June 12, 1993, and the first case, albeit also the last case she sat on was the ex-parte application filed by Chief Arthur Nzeribe’s Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). ABN told the court that both NRC and SDP presidential candidates were corrupt.
ABN was formed after Babangida abolished the 13 political (parties) associations and created National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1991. The primary objective of the ABN was to keep Babangida in power. The ABN demonstrated its determination to achieve its objective by putting up billboards in Abuja that carried the message “Four More Years,” which means the military government should stay in power for another four years. The intensity of the ABN’s pro-government campaigns led many observers to conclude that the federal military government was behind the activities of the association. Though, ABN didn’t succeed in stopping the presidential election from holding but succeeded in halting the announcement of the presidential election result. Just as ABN got injunctions in FCT, pro and counter (conflicting) injunctions were secured from courts all over Nigeria. It was an ugly scene to observe.
On June 23, 1993 when General Babangida announced the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, highly believed to have been won by the late Alhaji Moshood K Abiola, he blamed the judiciary for the crisis leading to his decision.
‘’It must be acknowledged that the performance of the judiciary on this occasion was less than satisfactory. The judiciary has been the bastion of the hopes and liberties of our citizens. Therefore, when it became clear that the courts had become intimidated and subjected to the manipulation of the political process, and vested interests, then the entire political system was in clear dangers. This administration could not continue to watch the various high courts carry on their long drawn out processes and contradictory decisions while the nation slides into chaos. It was under this circumstance that the National Defence and Security Council decided that it is in the supreme interest of law and order, political stability and peace that the presidential election be annulled’’, Babangida stated.
In the same vein, General Sanni Abacha blamed the judiciary for sacking Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Interim National Government (ING), following Justice Dolapo Akinsanya of Lagos High Court’s judgement declaring ING illegal and an aberration.
General Abacha however set up a panel headed by the late Justice Kayode Esho in 1994 to cleanse the Judiciary due to its performance in the previous year and the panel recommended 47 justices for sack.
The 1999 Constitution And Electoral Disputes
However, the 1999 Constitution provides for adjudication of the process leading to election disagreements and disputes over election results through the regular court and the electoral petition tribunals.
The Constitution further mandates the President of the Court of Appeal to constitute election petition tribunals that shall seat over petitions filed against the election results into the seats of the President, Vice President, senate, House of Representatives, Governorship, state Assembly and the Local Government Councils nationwide.
The Constitutional provisions for election petition tribunal and subsequent Electoral Act drawn by the National Assembly to provide instruments for the judiciary to settle electoral disputes have unarguable contributed immensely to reliance on courts instead of self-help or violence to protest results declared by the authority or electoral umpire.
Judges As Casualties
During ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s rule (1999-2007), so many chief judges got their hands burnt over gale of impeachment of state governors.
Section 188(5) of the 1999 constitution as (amended) for instance vested the powers on the state Chief Judge to appoint 7-man panel to investigate allegations of Gross Misconduct of the Executive Governor of a State. While carrying out this function, the chief judges are also to be guided by other sub-sections of Section 188.
The mere failure by some chief judges of states to comply with the letters of the constitution as he yields to political pressures caused the National Judicial Council to confine them to judiciary graveyards.
According to ‘‘Access to Justice’’, the sacking of four state chief judges at a time in 2006 was announced through NJC’s press statement thus:
‘‘At an emergency meeting held at Abuja on 20th December, 2006, the National Judicial Council, acting with powers vested on it by Paragraph 21(d) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 constitution suspended the Chief Judges of Anambra, Plateau and Ekiti states for the partisan roles played in the impeachment of their respective state governors.
Those suspended were Justices Chika Okoli (Anambra), Ya’u Dakwang (Plateau), and both the Chief Judge of Ekiti state, Justice Kayode Bamisile and the former acting chief judge of the state, Justice Jide Aladejana’’.
Justice Chuka Okoli was placed on suspension by the council for what is considered to be his inglorious act in the controversial impeachment of Peter Obi as governor of the state. Governor Virginia Etiaba effected the decision of the council by appointing an acting chief judge.
Justice Kayode Bamisile, his Ekiti State counterpart, was also sanctioned for similar misconduct. The former chief judge allegedly compromised himself by appointing on the investigation panel persons believed to be cronies of suspended Governor Ayodele Fayose, to probe the alleged misconduct of the governor. But Jide Aladejana, who stepped into Bamisile’s shoes without due process, goes with his boss in line with the council’s recommendation. Justice Ya’u Dakwang, the chief judge of Plateau State, also lost his job because of his reluctance to be guided by law in his participation in the processes leading to the removal of Governor Joshua Dariye.
There is no political moments that consume judges more than election petition tribunal trials. The stakes are so high, pressure brought on the judiciary and participating judges are immeasurable. One would not forget easily the likes of Justices Okechukwu Opene and D. A. Adeniji, who were indicted for taking bribe on the matter of the senatorial election in Anambra State. While Opene allegedly took N12 million, Adeniji was said to have collected N15 million. Obasanjo upheld the decision of the NJC on them.
They are not the only judicial officers who fell victims to the political crisis in Anambra State. Stanley Nnaji, then a judge of Enugu State High Court, was suspended in March 2004 for wrongly assuming jurisdiction on a matter outside his state. The judge had ordered Tafa Balogun, then inspector-general of police, to remove Chris Ngige, who was then the governor of Anambra State. Nnoruka Udechukwu, the state attorney-general and commissioner for justice, petitioned the NJC, complaining that the ruling was in bad faith and against the code of conduct of judicial officers. Nnaji was probably encouraged by the reluctance of the federal government to implement a similar decision of the council on Wilson Egbo-Egbo, another high court judge, for granting an injunction directing Ngige to stop parading himself as the governor. But shortly after Nnaji committed his own misconduct, Obasanjo approved Egbo-Egbo’s retirement. The latter is one of the nine judges retired in that period for endorsing unnecessary ex-parte applications. They are not the only casualties of political cases. Five others were implicated in the 2003 Election Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom State.
They adjudicated on the petition against the re-election of Governor Victor Attah by Ime Umanah, candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), at the election. By the time the NJC concluded its job, Matilda Adamu, a judge of the High Court of Plateau State, Christopher P.N. Senlong of the Federal High Court, Lagos, and James Isede, a chief magistrate in the Edo State judiciary, had earned themselves dismissal from the judiciary. D. T. Ahua of the High Court of Plateau State and A. M. Elelegwu of the Customary Court of Appeal, Delta State, were recommended for suspension. The federal government, after approving the verdict of the council on the higher officers in February 2004, sent their case files to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for trial.
Sacking of CJN, Arrest of Judges over Corruption
On January 25, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen from office on the orders of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and consequently swore-in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as acting CJN same day.
This followed a petition filled by a civil society group, ‘’Anti-corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI)’’, saying Justice Onnoghen was economical with truths and in breach of the code of conduct for public officers with the false asset declarations forms he filled at the CCB.
Justice Onnoghen’s suspension gave birth to political venomous debates, foul turbulent and thunderstorm wind enveloping the judiciary; especially with unmitigated impression generated in some quarters that the judiciary had become All Progressive Congress (APC) instrument. Justice Onnoghen eventually resigned from office, marking perhaps the first CJN to be sacked under democracy in Nigeria.
The Directorate of State Service (DSS) on October 9, 2016 arrested seven judges accused of complicity in acts of corruption. Aside Justices Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, both of the Supreme Court, other judges arrested and detained by the DSS were Justices Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court; Muazu Pindiga of Gombe High Court; Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal Ilorin, and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, I. A. Umezulike.
Landmark Judicial Interventions on Electoral Disputes
There are landmark judicial interventions to behold in the country. On October 25, 2007, the Supreme Court on AMAECHI v INEC  5 NWLR [PT.1080] 227 resolved the issue of the wrongful substitution of candidates of Political Parties during elections. The Court held that Amaechi was wrongly substituted with Omehia by PDP and that in the eyes of the law, Amaechi who didn’t contest the election was at all times the legal candidate of PDP at the elections, and proceeded to declare him as Governor of Rivers State.
Amaechi who won Rivers state PDP governorship primary in December 2006 was substituted with Omehia, and early in 2007, Amaechi filed a suit challenging his substitution against the April 14, 2007 elections.
When Celestine Omehia went back to ask the apex court to reverse itself on the grounds that it amounted to a mistake for a person whose name was not in the ballot paper to be declared winner of an election, and their lordships punished further by awarding N100,000 cost against him, saying even if it was a mistake, the apex court has a right to make a mistake.
Supreme Court had on February 12, 2019 finally struck out all pending appeals challenging the judgement of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court which barred the APC from fielding candidates in the 2019 general elections.
Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour led 5-man panel followed the apex court judgement of February 8, 2019 which upheld the order of a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, nullifying the APC primaries in Rivers State.
The trial court had held that the primaries were held in disobedience to a court judgement barring the party from conducting congresses pending the determination of a suit filed by 22 aggrieved members of the party.
Again, Supreme Court on May 24, 2019 nullified the elections of all the candidates of the APC in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections.
Delivering a unanimous judgment of the five-man panel led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the apex court declared the first runners-up in the 2019 general elections in the state as the winners of all the posts earlier declared to have been won by the APC and its candidates.
Justice Paul Galinje, who read the lead judgment upheld the decision of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal to the effect that the APC did not conduct any valid primary election and as such had no candidate for any of the elections in the state.
He described the votes polled by the APC candidates in the elections as wasted, adding that the party and the candidates with the second highest votes and the spread in the various elections were the valid winners.
In other words, the 36 positions including governor and his deputy’s seats, 3 senate, 7 Reps members and 24 state House of Assembly seats were lost in one swoop to the PDP by the APC.
The Courts has employed an expansive interpretation of existing texts, such as the Supremacy Clause and the Good Governance provisions of the Constitution, to mediate critical political disputes in the post-military rule period. In this process, the Courts have to some degree articulated a jurisprudence to meet the needs of the political stability of the nation. In particular, its innovative take on the interpretation of the relevance and status of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy has signaled a promising break with the conservative jurisprudential attitude of the past.
The judiciary is the most prominent institutional body that guarantees the continuation of efforts at democratization. The rule of law determines the legitimacy of a state. In this regard, an independent judiciary would allow the dismantling of any ineffective institutions that are obstacles to democratic consolidation.
Moreover, the judiciary is the only institutional body that guarantees the maintenance of the rule of law. For this reason alone, the relationship between the legal system and democratic consolidation is a vital part of democratization. The judiciary functions as the primary guarantor of the rule of law and the separation of powers.