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The absence of an effective legal channel through which civil disagreements can be justly resolved is one reason, among many, that Nigerians have not bothered to challenge the government for its involvement in what is ostensibly beyond its allotted responsibility. This does not mean that there are no judges and lawyers in Nigeria; in fact, the doctrine of separation of powers is writ large in the country's governmental structures. However, the judiciary has functioned more like an extension of, and sometimes a lackey for, the executive and legislative branches than an independent coequal branch. While the symbolisms may be similar, the actual jurisprudential impact of the Supreme Court of Nigeria has been relatively minimal, compared with the role such institutions play in other democracies, notably the United States, where the Supreme Court's decisions have "directly impacted the way people express themselves religiously on a daily basis and shaped [their] understanding of what it means to live in a democracy with substantial religious diversity." But because of the fascist and autocratic tendencies of Nigerian governments, military and civilian, the nation's high court has been reluctant to issue authoritative pronouncements in "most of the leading cases that questioned some of the established norms of the Nigerian political system."" To have done so would have meant career suicide, if not literal death, for the judges concerned. Thus, for guidance on religion jurisprudence, whether about pilgrimage or other subjects, we will have to look elsewhere for "the 'lively sparks' that might ordinarily be expected from the judiciary in a complex and highly segmented nation-state like Nigeria." These sparks are analyzed in Part I below.



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