Developing story: Heads of 3 Judges to roll over Exparte orders

As the nation waits to see what will happen as a result acts described as judicial abuses, it is now known that three judges in the country are to be used to set example for ostensibly  tarnishing the image of the judiciary.

They are to be punished for indiscriminately issuing exparte orders in matters that are seen as having serious political undertones.

The names of the affected judges are yet to be disclosed.

It is also not known at this time if any of the Judges who would soon be unveiled in the public square for acts of misdemeanour is from Rivers State.

The fact that the  NJC is expected to invite these three judges accused of aiding highly placed individuals who have, or who are presently engaging in forum-shopping, have been firmly established.

Using them as examples:

According to a highly authoritative publication,  TheNigeriaLawyer, the decision to drag the three judges before the NJC has been concluded.

“We shall make example with these three Judges and never shall we condone such act”, The Chief Justice of Nigeria,  Justice Tanko Mohammed is quoted as saying.

The NJC’s Information Director, Soji Oye Esq, who made the disclosure in a statement said Chief Judges who were invited by the CJN were drawn from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Rivers State, Kebbi State, Cross River State,  Jigawa State, Anambra State and Imo State.

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These states as well as the FCT have become notorious trading posts, a development that has forced many Nigerians to raise eyebrows in recent times.

How the meeting went:

The Chief Justice of Nigeria reportedly met with the CJs summoned over conflicting exparte orders issued by high courts within their areas of jurisdiction.

The meeting which lasted for about six hours commenced at 11 a.m. and lasted till 5:30 p.m.

The CJN started off with an interactive session during which he met the CJs on a one-on-one basis.

Each of the Chief Judges was quizzed separately by the CJN for over an hour, according to information.

They were thereafter assembled under one  roof and made to listen to a riot act read by the CJN.

Roles for Chief Judges of States

Saying that “a damage to one jurisdiction is a damage to all”, the CJN remarked,  “We must therefore put an end to indiscriminate granting of exparte orders, conflicting judgements or rulings occasioned by forum-shopping.”

The nation’s highest justice further declared, “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.”

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On the kind of disciplinary action that is to serve as a deterent,  the CJN emphasised,  “We shall make example with these three Judges and never shall we condone such act”.

He however explained that erring judges would be asked to appear before the National Judicial Council.

While facing the NJC, they would have to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting exparte orders.

Justice Mohammed warned the Chief Judges, saying henceforth they should avoid the penchant for unnecessarily assuming jurisdiction, especially in cases concerning similar subject matter and parties that are before other courts.

The CJN acknowledged it is equally the responsibility of CJs to protect courts from lawyers who are interested in forum shopping.

He encouraged heads of courts to work at tandem with Judges in order to salvage the image of the Judiciary.

Muhammad warned that it is untennable for CJs to pick newly appointed Judicial Officers as vacation Judges or assign complex cases to inexperienced Judges.

Finding long term solution:

Another meeting of all Chief Judges of States is to be called in order to determine the way forward.

The CJN revealed that all Heads of Courts will be invited to a meeting which would as a matter of urgency reemphasize the need for the Judiciary to be circumspect on the issue of granting exparte orders.

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In betwern, Nigeria’s Chief Justice is expected to meet with the leadership of the Bar Association.

The Bar is worried about acts committed by senior lawyers which contribute to some of the pressures that judges face in course of the discharge of their assignment.

We cannot tell when the meeting with the NBA shall take place, but the CJN, many in the Judiciary think, might meet with the bar quickly in order to secure their cooperation  in the fight against corruption in the judiciary.

As part of the future to come, what Judicial Corrrspondents are describing as direction guidelines would come on stream. It would be prepared by Heads of Courts.

Hopefully, it would help set a template and raise the level of consciousness among  judges.

But in order to lead an efficient and effective judiciary,  the CJN is advising all Heads of Court to be abreast of  current developments in the politym

He said it would be best if heads of court keep pace with Judgments delivered by Courts of various jurisdictions, at least to avert conflicting orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

The CJN is hoping that with everything place the Judiciary would no longer condone indiscipline or allow any Judge or group of judges to tarnish the image of the Judiciary.