The judiciary and political change in Africa: developing transitional jurisprudence… (H. O. Yusuf)


Hakeem O. Yusuf


Nigeria; jurisprudence; judiciary; human rights; constitutional law; transitional law; cooperation; environmental protection.


At a time of increased evaluations of law, human rights , and the rise of judicial power all over the globe, the work of most African judiciaries and the principles of the jurisprudence they espouse in promoting social justice remain an unlikely focus of comparative legal scholarship. This ought not to be so in view of the considerable activities of the courts on the continent in the dawn of the third wave of democratization. This article explores the work of the Nigerian Supreme Court in the political transition to democracy since 1999. Utilizing insights from the work of Ruti Teitel, it attempts to outline some of the major constitutional and extraconstitutional principles adopted by the Court in mediating intergovernmental contestations in the turbulent transition away from almost three decades of authoritarian military rule. It emerges that the task of fostering social transformation through the “weakest” branch seriously tasks the institutional integrity of the judiciary. Examines the role of the judiciary in the process of political transition, social transformation and democratisation of Nigeria, with reference to Supreme Court jurisprudence attempting to apply constitutional principles, remedy legislative excess and promote good government and co-operative federalism in a context of political change. Analyses this case law applying Ruti Teitel’s account of the transformative function of law at times of social and political transition.


(2009) 7(4) International Journal of Constitutional Law, 654-682.


The judiciary and political change in Africa: developing transitional jurisprudence in Nigeria.