An analysis of Nigeria’s soft non-compliant approach to domestic and regional court orders and its implication for human rights and the rule of law
Enshrining executive accountability and rule of law practices have been the drive behind democratic developments and the rise of regional human rights courts across the African continent. At the national level, a concern has been the need to practise effective separation of powers in order to ensure the independence of the judiciary. At the regional level, the literature has focused mainly on the human rights mandates of regional courts and tribunals with particular emphasis on states’ compliance with the decisions of these bodies. With the dominant reaction of states, most especially in instances of unfavourable regional rulings, being largely characterised by aggression and confrontation, the literature has failed to address a more recent trend of states’ cooperative and compliant rhetoric, towards adverse judgments of regional courts, albeit with a predetermined position not to comply with the ruling of those courts. This chapter attempts to address these gaps in the literature by analysing the “soft” approach of non-compliance in cases that crisscross national and regional courts. In doing this, the chapter will examine two Nigerian cases (involving Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu) where abuses of court processes and the state’s disregard for court orders have seen the defendants make much-needed appeals to the regional court. The chapter examines this fledgeling interaction between national and regional courts and the implications of the “soft” approach to non-compliance in the administration of justice and the rule of law. The findings are particularly relevant in the context of previous literature that has attached importance to “respect” accorded to regional institutions in determining whether such states would comply with the decisions of those bodies.
Keywords: Nigeria, judicial compliance, rule of law, ECOWAS Court, human rights