Judicial Independence in Developing Democracies: Lessons from Nigeria

Judicial independence fosters good governance, the rule of law, and democratisation and ensures the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights through its primary adjudicative and interpretative powers. However, judicial independence is limited in developing countries such as Nigeria. The executive financially controls the Nigerian judiciary and uses this financial control to influence judicial behaviour. Also, the government frequently ignores the orders and decisions of courts. In addition, the judicial officials are daily been subjected to acts of intimidation and threat. Using the case of Nigeria, this paper examines the nature and scope of judicial independence in a context of limited democracy by focusing on power relations, the challenges and their consequences on the dispensation of justice as well as the image of the judiciary by the citizens that see the institution as their last hope.