The Past has not Passed Away: Burdens of an Unreformed Judiciary in Post-Authoritarian Context

Nigeria has now experienced more than two decades of civil rule after nearly 30 years of military authoritarian rule. The judicial record in governance during the authoritarian period was virtually unaddressed despite widespread public concerns about the role of the judiciary during the period. The political transition proceeded with the judicial institution’s baggage of complicity for legitimising authoritarian rule and a record of corruption. While the Nigerian judiciary has made significant contributions to governance in the troubled post-authoritarian state, the judiciary remains blighted from unaccounted institutional legacy. This continues to have serious consequences for the rule of law, human rights, and democracy in the polity. Using judgements of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the existing literature on the Nigerian judiciary, this paper examines and evaluates the effects of the institutional legacy of the Nigerian judiciary on human rights, rule of law and democracy.