Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad has ordered three judges involved in granting conflicting exparte orders to appear before the National Judicial Council to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.
A statement by Soji Oye, a director, information at the NJC described Justice Muhammad to have been visibly angry and was reported to have stated that “a damage to one jurisdiction is a damage to all and called for an end to indiscriminate granting of exparte orders, conflicting judgements or rulings occasioned by forum-shopping.”
The CJN had issued summons on August 30, requesting that the judges of Rivers, Kebbi, Cross River, Anambra, Jigawa, FCT and Imo states explain their recent conflicting exparte court orders.
Mr Oye in the statement said the meeting, which commenced at 11am on Monday, lasted till 5:30pm, and began with a one-on-one interaction with the chief judges.
“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,” Oye said.
“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 example with these three Judges and never shall we condone such act.
The CJN warned the judges to 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”.
“Justice Muhammad also warned the CJs [against] making newly appointed judicial officers vacation judges and assigning complex cases to inexperienced judges,” the statement reads.
“He revealed that all heads of courts will be invited to a meeting to reemphasise the need for the judiciary to be circumspect on the issue of granting ex parte 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.”
By Abel Ejikeme