September 6, 2021

NJC okays probe of 3 judges for granting conflicting ex-parte orders


Justice Muhammad Tanko

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja

The National Judicial Council, NJC, has okayed the probe of three judges for granting ex-parte orders that were considered an embarrassment to the judiciary.

Though the NJC, which has the statutory mandate to discipline erring Judges, usually act on petitions that are forwarded to it, however, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, after a marathon meeting with seven Chief Judges on Monday, gave a nod for the Council to investigate the three judges without a formal complaint pending against them.

The CJN doubles as Chairman of the NJC.

According to a statement that was made available to Vanguard by the Director of Information at the NJC, Mr Soji Oye, the CJN, came tough on the CJs he summoned to an emergency meeting over conflicting court orders that emanated from their judicial divisions within the last one month.

Vanguard learned that the meeting which commenced at 11 a.m on Monday, lasted till about 5:30 p.m, with the CJN, engaging in a one-on-one interaction with the CJs he summoned to Abuja.

The CJs that were separately grilled for an hour each by the CJN on Monday, were those of the Federal Capital Territory, Rivers, Kebbi, Cross River, Jigawa, Anambra and Imo State.

The statement further revealed that the NJC will meet with all Heads of Court in the Country and leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, over the repeated abuse of the judicial process through indiscriminate applications for ex-parte injunctions.

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“Each of the CJs was separately quizzed personally by the CJN for over an hour, before later reading a riot act in a joint session with all of them”, the statement added.

The CJN, who was said to have been visibly angry, was said to have warned Chief Judges to caution judges under them to desist from granting exparte orders, especially on political matters.

He said: “A damage to one jurisdiction is a damage to all.  We must therefore put an end to indiscriminate granting of exparte orders, conflicting judgements or rulings occasioned by forum-shopping.  

“Your job as Heads of Court is a sacred one, and it, therefore, includes you vicariously taking the sins of others.  There must be an end to this nonsense.  

“You shall henceforth take absolute charge in assigning cases or matters, especially political, personally.  

“We shall make an example with these three Judges and never shall we condone such act”.

The statement further revealed that the three Judges have been invited to appear before the NJC to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting exparte orders.  

“The CJN warned the CJs to henceforth avoid unnecessary assumption of jurisdiction in matters with similar subject and parties already before another court, protect the court from lawyers that are out for forum shopping and work in tandem with all their Judges to salvage the image of the Judiciary.

“Hon. Dr. Justice Muhammad also warned the CJs from making newly appointed Judicial Officers vacation Judges and assigning complex cases to inexperienced Judges.  

“He revealed that all Heads of Courts will be invited to a Meeting to reemphasize the need for the Judiciary to be circumspect on the issue of granting exparte orders and will also meet with the NBA Leadership on the issue.

“The CJN advised all Heads of Court to be current on the development in the polity and the Judgments delivered by Courts of various jurisdictions and to urgently issue practice direction to guide Judges in their various courts to avoid giving conflicting decisions.  

“He concluded that the Judiciary will no longer condone indiscipline or allow any Judge to tarnish the image of the Judiciary”, the statement read.

Vanguard News Nigeria