In early February 2019, ahead of Nigeria’s last presidential elections held on February 23, 2019, Afrique Sub-Sahara Strategies Ltd (AQS) in partnership with U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (DOS-INL)/U.S. Embassy, Nigeria, hosted two-days of training on post-election litigation, judicial transparency and anti-corruption for 43 judicial officers (38 Judges and 5 Magistrates) of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. (See http://www.afriquestrategies.com/u-s-judges-train-nigerian-fct-judges/.)
The purpose of the judicial training project was to strengthen democracy and good governance through the Rule of Law, transparency and accountability by providing training to Nigerian Judges of the FCT on judiciary ethics (anti-corruption), integrity and best practices pertaining to Post-Elections Related Litigation in the Nigerian State and Federal Court Systems. The Global Corruption Barometer published by Transparency International (TI) constantly rates judicial integrity in Nigeria quite poorly.
Participants gained new insights on judicial ethics and best practices in post-election legal challenges. Some of these jurists ended up playing leading roles in resolving related electoral disputes as members and/or chairpersons of election tribunals. The US Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Africa Affairs Tibor Nagy Jr. called the February 2019 Nigerian national elections a “critical test,” that “could have significant consequences for the democratic trajectory of Nigeria, West Africa, and the entire continent.”
The U.S. judicial delegation consisted of: Judge W. Louis Sands, United States Court of Appeals for the Middle District of Georgia, Judge Denise Langford Morris, Sixth Circuit Court, Oakland County, Michigan and Justice Carolyn Wright-Sanders, Chief Justice of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas (Ret.), and Ms. Paulette Brown, Esq., former Judge, past president of the American and National Bar Associations (ABA & NBA), and Chair of the Africa Council of the Rule of Law Initiative of the ABA.
Feedback from the participants on the benefits of the judicial training program was swift. Hon. Justice Peter O. Affen of the FCT High Court described the training as “greatly enriching and rewarding,” while anti-corruption crusader, Justice Adebukola Banjoko said, the training offered great insights into the issues of judicial ethics, independence, and is a good tool to fight corruption.”
AQS navigated through enormous difficulties due to the U.S. government shutdown at the time, as well as security threats in Nigeria related to concerns of potential foreign interference with Nigeria’s 2019 election. Gradually, a major aspect of the judicial training (anti-corruption) is gaining grounds and bringing down heavy-weight politicians, including two former governors and a serving senator, who have defrauded the public by stealing public funds. Ultimately, the project served to improve the skills, courage and knowledge of judges on anti-corruption and ethical behavior with a focus on post-2019 election litigation. The two-day judicial training program was held at the Uwais Dispute Resolution Centre, Judicial Service Committee Complex, Gudu District, Abuja, Nigeria.
Operating on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean from dual U.S. and Africa perspectives, AQS effectively assists U.S. government agencies, African governments and governmental parastatals, NGOs, and public organizations to achieve exemplary efficiencies in SSA through reliable multi-channel connections, well-calibrated strategic deliverables, and customized solutions. AQS’ areas of concentration include anti-corruption, good governance, institutional and public-sector reform, justice sector reform and promoting transparency & rule of law. AQS possesses the global perspective, regional vision, and country-by-country socio-cultural fluency to successfully execute even the most complex projects in SSA.
AQS shepherds their clients to create comprehensive anti-corruption compliance policies and procedures that incorporate socio-cultural nuances endemic in Africa and build strategic partnerships that blend their core competencies with the applicable capabilities of their strategic alliance partners. To this end, in January 2020, Minneapolis based AQS and Texas based Black & Rossi entered into a transformational strategic alliance/teaming agreement aimed at providing a broad range of unparalleled and culturally competent development consulting services to U.S. government agencies and African governments, and related parastatals in SSA.