Challenges, Limits and Prospects of ‘Judicial Governance’ in Nigeria’s Political Transition (1999-2014)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Colleges, School and Institutes


The judiciary has become a strategic institution in Nigeria’s post-authoritarian transition. Following the country’s un-negotiated transition from almost three decades of military rule to civil rule– in which the military left power without consultations with diverse relevant stakeholders – , the political elite has found considerable attraction in judicialising political conflict on a number of issues that ought to be resolved through political processes. These range from important fiscal policy issues like revenue allocation, public accountability to management of local-level governance. In the Nigerian context these are matters of critical political importance which had been long suppressed by a legacy of authoritarian military regimes which followed closely on the heels of colonial rule which ordinarily ought to be resolved through political processes. Analysts of political processes have noted that political elites, especially in divided societies, sometimes adopt consociation as a political mechanism for resolving power contestations with a core feature of consociation being the privileging of depoliticised approaches over majoritarian ones. This approach to governance, particularly with reference to intergovernmental contestations has led to an unprecedented judicialisation of politics or governance in the country which was most prominent in the first decade of the transition but has, to varying extents, continued till date.
The judiciary has been the focus of both national and international attention as a forum that ostensibly offers opportunity for resolving ongoing disputes and contestations in the country’s troubled political transition. It is thus relevant to consider whether or how the judiciary has been instrumental to furthering the transition to proclaimed democratic rule, the respect for human rights and upholding the rule of law? What has been the nature of judicial intervention in ongoing tensions that emerge from the interplay of a largely fused federal system in a heterogeneous, resource-rich but increasingly impoverished polity?


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNormative Spaces in Africa
EditorsKatrin Seidel, Hatem Elliesie
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameLegal Anthropology