By Jonathan Gunu Taidi, Esq.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the judiciary in Nigeria is in a state of anomie and absolutely unable to operate like an independent arm of government rather than as an appendage of the executive. A plethora of factors account for this sad state of affairs and I am particularly concerned with a certain ceremony which appears innocuous enough but actually illustrates the whole imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the judiciary.

The administration of oath of office to judicial officers by chief executives is manifestly symbolic of the judiciary’s continued subjugation to the executive. We witnessed yet again this anomaly play out when President Buhari administered the judicial oath of office to the new CJN. I mean, if not for anything, the very fact that the heads of courts are customarily ascertained by seniority within the bench, devoid of any executive influence, is enough for the such a ceremony to be done within the judiciary, either by the retiring CJN or a past one. The President has no business administering the judicial oath of office.

In civilized jurisdictions like the United States of America, judicial oaths of office to the Chief Justice is never administered by the President. As a matter of fact, the ceremony has always taken place in that nation’s Supreme Court’s premises. The closest they have come to something like the Nigerian scenario was in 1940 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Frank Murphy to take his Constitutional Oath at the White House. On January 18th, Murphys Constitutional Oath was administered in the Oval Office by Justice Stanley F. Reed as the President looked on. A newspaper covering the event noted at the time that such an occurrence was without precedent. A little more than two weeks later, on February 5, 1940, the Clerk of the Supreme Court administered the Judicial Oath to Murphy in the Courtroom and the new Justice took his seat.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan revived the practice of holding a Constitutional Oath ceremony at the White House when he hosted a ceremony for Chief Justice-designate William H. Rehnquist and Justice-designate Antonin Scalia. Retiring Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administered the Constitutional Oaths on both after which Rehnquist said, at the conclusion of the second part of the proceedings, that “…in our Court this afternoon, I will become the sixteenth Chief Justice of the United States.”Later that day in a special sitting in the Courtroom, Chief Justice Burger administered the Judicial Oath on Rehnquist. Chief Justice Rehnquist in turn administered the Judicial Oath on Scalia, making Scalia the only Justice to take oaths from two different Chief Justices on the same day.

Subsequently, some oaths have been taken at the White House, or other locations as circumstances may dictate. For example, Stephen G. Breyer, confirmed during the summer of 1994, was vacationing near Chief Justice Rehnquist. Rather than wait to take the oaths, he drove to Rehnquists location in Vermont where the Chief Justice administered them. When all had returned to Washington, D.C., Breyer retook the Constitutional Oath at a White House ceremony and an investiture ceremony was also held at the Supreme Court on September 30, 1994.

The U.S understands the complete and unfettered independence of the judiciary, that is why something as symbolic as oath taking within judiciary is guarded and administered within the court. We cannot as a nation strive to entrench international best practices if we are not serious about imitating same.

Without prejudice to the other factors that contribute to the absence of independence of the judiciary, this is a good point of focus in the effort to vigorously advocate for its independence.

As in all things, we need to do better as a nation if we are serious about making headway. The judiciary is bedeviled with sundry problems right now and we must resolve to do everything possible to restore it to its pristine pedestal.

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In this piece, MR. BAYO AKINLADE, anti-corruption crusader, former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu Branch and self-styled “The Bonafide Lagosian” x-rays the operations of Lagos traffic management company and treatment of alleged traffic offenders and argues that the mobile courts are being held by the jugular by the Executive arm

The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) is the Lagos State Government agency created to coordinate transport planning, policies, and public transport infrastructure implementation in the Lagos Metropolitan Area.

The organisation oversees wide range of transport planning and implementation of transport strategies and plans in Lagos, as well as the Lagos Rail Mass Transit and the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System. THIS IS A BIG LIE AND THE SCAM OF THE CENTURY, this is why.


The Blue BRT Buses are the only buses allowed on the BRT Corridor in Lagos State. The buses that operate on the corridor are owned by ONE company called Primero Transport Services. Primero is a private company owned by Mr. Fola TINUBU and your guess is as good as mine on who that is.

If one company alone has exclusive access to one whole lane on most of Lagos highways, then I am very bothered especially with the scarcity of roads in Lagos and the fact that most roads are damaged and under construction.

Despite its laudable initiative, the Lagos State government shows great indignation and hatred for its citizens when it allows us to spend hours on the roads while a whole lane is reserved for one bus company.

The fact that citizens have no competitive alternative is also a big disservice. Many users of the BRT are extorted daily by the bus company when monies are taken out of their bus cards illegally, they stand in queues for hours while the buses just stand there empty, they are forced to enter direct route buses and pay the maximum fare even though they are stopping on the way, there are mostly no refunds for wrongful deductions and the complaint process is set up to frustrate you.

Ordinary citizens have no respite? Can even the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission stop this evil?


To secure the income of this one company that runs the BRT corridor, LAMATA has an enforcement team that engages the services of the Nigerian Police, LASTMA, FRSC and other law enforcement agencies.

These enforcers don’t know the traffic laws and instead of helping to ensure free flow of traffic as the object of LAMATA, they are interested in entrapping motorists and extorting monies from them. Is LAMATA concerned about this? Sadly NO.

I am aware that the MD of LAMATA has some foreign experience but I regret to observe that the MD is not competent enough to manage these situations that we find ourselves in Lagos State.

Should a state with so few road networks be busy impounding cars and arresting motorist for traffic offences that are created just to oppress people?

If people are taking one way, why don’t you just redesign the road and temporary designate one ways as ways that can flow both ways at certain times of the day. Why can’t enforcers redirect traffic instead of ambushing motorist? Why can’t they be more understanding and explain to the motorist why they should not do certain things rather than forcefully jump into their cars, tow their cars away, or illegally remove their licence plates?

It’s quite unfortunate that we may have experienced and educated people at the helm of affairs but ignorant, uneducated and violent persons as enforcers on the streets.


This one is closer to home. The government has held the Mobile Courts and some magistrates’ courts by the jugular. The judiciary is not independent to determine traffic offence cases. The system is so unjust that it is the traffic violator that has to prove his innocence. Most principles of Law don’t have a place in the adjudication of traffic laws in Lagos State.

I am so disappointed that our Judiciary has condescended to the Executive arm of government and allowed itself to be manipulated and intimidated. It has been rumored that the Judiciary now generates income for the Lagos State government in a clandestine manner. I am sure we can now see how. But the courts are helpless and they need the citizens to speak up for their rights.

Isn’t it ridiculous that when you are arrested for a traffic offence, those who arrest you don’t have tickets they can issue? Why should you commit an offence in Lagos Island and be forced to drive to Ketu to get a referral to appear in Court? Why should you go from court at Oshodi to Ketu to pay your fine? In this Lagos where it takes an average of 2 to 3 hours to get to any particular destination!

Let me appeal to both our Judiciary and the Legislators to reconsider the Traffic Laws, look at its implementation, management, enforcement and prosecution. The fines are absurd and inhuman, the process of prosecution and adjudication is skewed and illegal – mostly violating all known principles of law and the constitution.

WE ARE THE PEOPLE. The government is there to serve us and not to lord it over us. If you are arrested for a traffic offence, make sure you take pictures or make videos of the area.

Do not resist arrest but insist on driving your own vehicle or to be taken to court immediately. Get in touch with the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). The OPD is available at the mobile courts as well.

You may also contact the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria or any Nigerian Bar Association Branch in Lagos State.

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