THE NIGERIAN SUPREME COURT AND THE POLITICAL QUESTION DOCTRINE
Keywords:Nigerian Supreme Court, political question doctrine, legality, legitimacy
AbstractThis paper examines the attitude of the Supreme Court of Nigeria towards the political question doctrine. It interrogates the decisions of the Court in selected landmark cases involving political questions since the First Republic to the Fourth Republic which commenced in 1999. The paper identifies three core approaches espoused by the Court in cases involving political questions – the deference approach, the necessity approach and the avoidance approach. This paper argues that in a constitutional democracy, it is inevitable – considering that the Court is both a political and a legal institution – that the Court, like in other jurisdictions such as Germany, India, South Africa and the United States, will be called upon to adjudicate cases involving political questions. As such, the paper recommends that the Court openly asserts the ‘politicality’ of its decisions, whether they are predicated on the need to defer to the political branches, exigency/necessity or to avoid the political questions brought before it.
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