Law News
Justice Aloma Mukhtar: Views from home and abroad

A highly respected British magazine, ‘’Newsweek” of April 8-15, 2013 edition named the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar as one of the ‘’125 women of impact” in the world.

The magazine premised Justice Mukhtar’s nomination on her judicial cleansing reform and avowed determination to get rid of judges involved in fraudulent practices or judgement for sale.

Specifically,  the magazine noted that, ‘’in a country notorious for its crooked officials, Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice, Mukhtar, has built a reputation as an unwavering reformer unafraid to root out criminals”.

The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law around. For four years running the WJP accesses some countries of compliance with the rule law. The WJP’s Rule of Law Index is a quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which 99 countries and one jurisdiction around the world adhere to the rule of law.

The WJP Rule of Law Index seeks to embody these outcomes by means of performance indicators the extent to which countries attain these outcomes. In attempting to capture a broad view of the rule of law in a nation, the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index® looks at 47 outcomes (or sub-factors) organized around nine dimensions (or factors): constraints on government powers; absence of corruption; open government; fundamental rights; order and security; regulatory enforcement; civil justice; criminal justice; and informal justice. 99 nations were scored and ranked on each of the nine factors. The WJP which is based in Washington D.C in USA also ranked the 99 nations.

The WJP Rule of Law Index 2014 report which was released recently awarded Nigeria a pass mark only in Civil Justice, ostensibly the judiciary headed by Justice Mukhtar. Specifically, the group’s report on Nigeria is as follows:

“Nigeria ranks 93rd overall and near the bottom half of lower middle income countries in most dimensions. The country ranks 69th for checks on the executive branch and 76th for open government, putting it slightly behind the average rankings of Sub-Saharan African countries. Yet, in most of the other dimensions, the country remains one of the poorest performers of the region. Corruption is widespread (ranking third to last in the world), the criminal justice system has deficiencies (ranking 91st overall and second to last in the region), fundamental rights are poorly protected (ranking 88th overall), and a deteriorating security situation continues to raise significant concerns (ranking 2nd to last overall) Nigeria’s best performance is in the area of civil justice, where it ranks 52nd globally and 7th among its income peers”.

As understood by the World Justice Project, the delivery of effective civil justice requires that the system be accessible and affordable, as well as free of discrimination, corruption and improper influence by public officials. The delivery of effective civil justice also necessitates that court proceedings be conducted in a timely manner that is not subject to unreasonable delays, and that judgments are enforced effectively

It would be recalled that the United States report titled “Department of State’s Country report on Human Rights practices for 2011″, which was tendered before the United States Congress in May 2012 by the Secretary of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton, had observed copiously that Nigerian Judiciary is very corrupt and susceptible to manipulations by the rich elite in business and politics.

According to the 60-pages report; “Although the Constitution and law provide for an independent Judiciary, the judicial branch remained susceptible to pressure from the executive and legislative branches and the business sector.”

“Understaffing, underfunding, inefficiency, and corruption continued to prevent the (Nigerian) Judiciary from functioning adequately”, says the report.