ABSTRACT: The study is set out to examine the impact of mass media in reforming the judicial system in Nigeria. Judiciary is one of the three (3) arms of government in a democratic setting like Nigeria while mass media is considered to be the fourth estate of the realm and as forum for public discussion and watch dog on all other arms of government. The study is anchored on Social Responsibility Theory, Agenda Setting Theory and Democratic Participant Theory respectively. Survey research method was adopted while 100 respondents were purposively select among the judiciary and journalists in Correspondents Chapel, Osogbo. Questionnaire was used to elicit responses from the respondents while the data collected were analyzed using a frequency and percentage tables. Findings show that mass media has special role to play in ensuring impartial judiciary system as the fourth estate of the realm. Majority of the respondents (66.7%) are exposed to judicial proceedings to a high extent. Similarly, respondents (66.7%) agreed that mass media do cover court and other judicial proceedings very often and evidence shows that there are judicial reporters covering judicial beats and special judicial reports. Larger percentage of the respondent agreed that there is need for reform in Nigeria judicial system while poor access to judicial records (44.4%), contempt of court (11%) and media ownership influence among other factors crippling judicial efficiency. It is recommended that media practitioners should have appreciable knowledge on judiciary, court and legal matters.
Keywords: REFORMING THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Table of Contents
Title page i
Table of Content v
1.0 Introduction 1
1.1 Background to the Study 1
1.2 Problem Statement 3
1.3 Objectives of the Study 3
1.4 Research Questions 5
1.5 Significance the Study 5
1.6 Scope of the Study 6
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms 7
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW 8
2.1 Definition of Mass Media 9
2.2 Forms of Mass Media 9
2.3 Functions of Mass Media 10
2.4 Characteristics of Mass Media 10
2.5 Concept of Judiciary 11
2.6 What is Judicial System? 12
2.7 Layers/hierarchy in the Nigeria Judicial System 13
2.8 Challenges facing Nigeria Judiciary System 14
2.9 Some Corrupt Allegations against Some Juries and Judiciary 15
in General in Nigeria
2.10 How Mass Media can Help Reforming the Judicial System in Nigeria 16
2.11 Theoretical Frameworks 21
2.11.1 Social Responsibility Theory 21
2.11.2 Agenda Setting Theory 22
2.11.3 Democratic Participant Theory 23
3.0 Research Methodology 26
3.1 Research Design 26
3.2 Study Population 26
3.3 Sample Size 26
3.4 Sampling Technique 26
3.5 Data Collection Instrument 27
3.6 Validity and Reliability of Research Instrument 27
3.7 Data Collection Instrument 27
3.8 Data Analysis Procedure 27
4.0 Data Presentation and Analysis 28
4.1 Data Analysis 28
5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations 34
5.1 Summary 34
5.2 Conclusion 34
5.3 Recommendations 35
1.1 Background to the Study
There is a saying in journalism that if there will be fourth arm of government, then it should be the “Press” because of the role and position occupied in society as an agenda setter, agent of socialisation, tool of mass mobilisation and platform for creating awareness.
Buttressing the above assertion, Daramola (2005) opines that “the mass media are very powerful socialising agent. The mass media are mainly newspapers, magazines, radios, televisions and movies they are impersonal sources and they reach large, heterogeneous and widely dispersed audiences. Their exact role in socialisation is controversial but as disseminators of news and entertainment, they are extremely influential”.
All these are pointers to the fact that mass media are essential institution in the society that must not only be free to perform but must also perform effectively in concomitant with responsibility because a responsible media will not only protect national interest but also showing concern to issues of public interest and achieve these with moderation while it also police other arms of government.
Meanwhile, the judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is responsible for interpreting the law of the land while applying it situations where they are necessary; this makes the job of the judiciary a very critical one. The law of the land constitute the basis upon which judgement are ruled, it is therefore, fundamental that the interpretation and application be carried out with absolute alacrity and meticulousness.
The importance of the judiciary in any political system cannot be overemphasised, hence, the constitution provides for its absolute independence to enable it perform its sacred constitutional functions with sentiment and reservations (Salami, 2014). It should not be assumed that the judiciary does not have a role to play; in fact, it cannot absolve itself from blame. Just as it is not open to a doctor to reject blame for incompetence or negligence on account that the patient was careless in infecting himself with the aliment for which he is being treated so would a judicial officer not be exculpated if he failed to perform his duty according to law and practice (Salami, 2014).
However, Nigeria judicial system is currently facing image challenge due to various corrupt allegations levied against the judges in the system from local and international organisations, which later resulted to October 7, 2016 invasion of the homes of selected judges by the Department of State Services (DSS). Also, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) ranked the Nigeria judiciary as the second highest receiver of bribes in the country (Alex, 2017).
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari said the judiciary arm of government is yet to perform its statutory functions to the satisfaction of Nigerians, given the reforms brought about by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. “Judiciary must take steps to ensure that it was not perceived as being partisan”. Also, the judges must be aware of the sensitivities of the public and take steps towards avoiding even a shred of a doubt regarding their independence (Chris, 2016). “In justice, integrity is a necessity. Hence, Judicial Officers and all other members of this sector must always demonstrate manifest integrity,”
The mass media therefore, as a social institution is expected to contribute to the smooth running of the society, have a crucial role to play in the establishment and sustenance of a system of justice in Nigeria. This role is in the form of advocacy journalism, agenda setting, community broadcasting and the effective use of new media (Kur, Melladu, and Nyekwere, 2013).
The media is also expected to monitor, police and work harmoniously to better the judiciary system in Nigeria because it is the last hope of the common men and interpreter of the law. It is a key organ of government that must not compromise because of the position occupies in the society. Therefore, corruption allegations and image problem facing the judiciary need to be reformed.
Thus, this study seeks to examine the impact of mass media in reforming the judicial system in Nigeria with a view to know how mass media can assist government in exposing corruption and other illegalities in the judicial system.
1.2 Problem Statement
The study set out to examine the impact of mass media in reforming the Nigeria judicial system. The judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is responsible for interpreting the law of the land while applying it situations where they are necessary; this makes the job of the judiciary a very critical one. However, critics have described the arm (judiciary) as one of the most corrupt and problem of the nation’s democracy because of the role it plays, especially the top judicial officers and notable lawyers.
Meanwhile, the crackdown on many of the judicial officers is an indication of their ill-performance and sabotage acts. On the night of the 7th of October 2016, between the hours of 10 pm and the wee hours of the next day, the Department of State Services (DSS) invaded the homes of selected judges of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja, judges of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt and Abuja and State High Court judges in Gombe and Kaduna States. The Government agency that spearheaded this ordeal anchored these actions, on the overriding and compelling necessity to eradicate corruption.
It was put in the public domain, snippets of the crimes these judicial officers were said to have committed. By and large, since these strong arm tactics were employed, there have been a torrent of views on both sides of the aisle hotly debating the bonafides or otherwise of the actions of the DSS and its aftermath. Similarly, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) ranked the Nigeria judiciary as the second highest receiver of bribes in the country (Alex, 2017).
This development has painted the arm in bad light as many Nigerians have lost hope on the credibility of the third arm which they considered to be the last hope of a common man in a society. It is against this background that the study seeks to examine the impact of mass media in reforming the judicial system in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To investigate whether the mass media beams their searchlight on legal and judicial matters as part of her social responsibilities.
- find out how mass media can assist in improving judicial system in Nigeria.
- To determine some of the likely challenges that can limit the media in contributing to the judicial reform.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent have the mass media reports judicial proceedings as part of social responsibilities?
- In what way can mass media assist in improving judicial system in Nigeria?
- What are the likely challenges that can limit the media in contributing to the judicial reform?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Judiciary as the last hope of the common men and interpreter of the law so they say is a key organ of government that must not compromise because of the position occurs in the society. Therefore, corruption allegations and image problem facing the arm need to be mended. However, this study will benefit lots of individual, groups, government, the media and other stakeholders in media, political arena and judiciary in general.
The study will benefit the media organisations on the need to steadfast in their role as the watchdog of the society, expose abuse of power and platform for socio-economic and political reform through credible news and programmes.
Another beneficiary of the study is the government, as the findings may motivate government to develop policies and programme that will help better judicial process in the country in other to strengthen the arm.
Judiciary: member of the judiciary and other judicial stakeholders will benefit from the study as they tend to understand the extent of public awareness, about their activities especially on various allegation levies against the top officers in the sector. So as to guide against the public sentiments.
The study will fill a new gap as it will add to the body of literature and empirical studies that is available for the students, researcher and institution that may want to study media in relation to the judiciary while future researchers can borrow idea from this study while conducing similar or related study in the future.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this research shall be narrowed down to the journalists in Osun state particularly those that can be accessed at the Osun State Correspondents, Osogbo. The Press Centre is selected because it offers the researcher opportunity to have access to as many journalists as possible from various media organisations (print, broadcast and online) because journalists especially those reporting from Osun state often visit the place. Other factors include inadequate time to study all mass media outfits in Nigeria, lack of fund to travel around and other considerable logistics.
Thus, journalists’ demographic variables such as gender, age, educational level, and qualification, work experience, marital status and many more will be considered before the structuring and administration of the research instrument.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Impact: This refers to the contributions of mass media on how to effectively reform the judicial system in Nigeria.
Mass Media: This refers to the various means of mass communication (newspaper, magazine, radio, television and online media platforms) that disseminate information to Nigerians on various activities of the judiciary.
Reforming: It refers to the means by which the mass media can be employed to reorganize, improve, transform and enhance the performance of the judiciary especially as the institution is facing corrupt allegation locally and internationally.
Judicial System in Nigeria: This is the third arm of government in Nigeria after the legislature and executive arms; it interprets and adjudicates law concerning individuals, government agencies, groups, and corporate bodies among others. It includes the lawyers, judges, solicitors among others that are saddles with the judicial process in Nigeria.