The National Judicial Council (NJC) has stated its resolve to investigate and sanction some judges who may have been compromised to deliver contradictory judgments in cases brought before them.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, disclosed this at the special session of the Supreme Court to mark the commencement of the 2016/2017 legal year and swearing-in of newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
He said the NJC had received petitions against some judges who delivered conflicting judgments in some cases before them and that investigations into the petitions were ongoing and would be made public soon.
The CJN added that appropriate punitive measures would be taken against any of the judges found guilty.
Justice Mohammed also blamed the delay in justice delivery on lawyers.
“While we all rush to rehash the age-old rhetoric that justice delayed is justice denied, the actions of our key stakeholders, particularly members of the Bar, have often proven to be far from words.
“Sadly, certain members of the Bar are conspicuous in utilising unethical, frivolous applications and appeals, multiplicity of actions in courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction and other acts of calumny to frustrate the speedy dispensation of justice,” the CJN stated.
According to him, the Supreme Court is unhappy about this trend and will constantly introduce measures to reduce delays in the administration of justice “as the past year’s statistics will doubtless testify.”
He expressed dismay at the growing trend of the disregard for laid down precedents in decisions from various levels of courts, especially at the appellate court, pointing out that every court in Nigerian is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and shall not graft a different outcome from those expressly laid down by the Supreme Court.
His words: “Several conflicting decisions were recklessly dished out by the Court of Appeal last year in appeals arising from various decisions of the Election Petitions Tribunals, given on election petitions filed by parties who lost in the general elections conducted in April 2015. Such decisions were made as a result of flagrant refusal of the Panels of the Court of Appeal involved, to be bound not only by its own decisions but also by the decision of this court.”
The CJN also warned lawyers to desist from writing petitions against judicial officers directly to President Muhammadu Buhari, but address them to the NJC which, he promised, would act on them without delay.
He consequently gave judges in the country the marching orders to deal with any lawyer that maligns them.
Justice Mohammed charged the new SANs to imbibe the highest tenets of integrity and humility that befit their status.
Speaking on behalf of the body of SANs, Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN), noted that the judiciary in the nation had lately witnessed the show of shame brought about by courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction assuming jurisdiction to hear the same dispute, between the same parties and delivering totally contradictory verdicts.
Although he did not make particular reference to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), LEADERSHIP recalls that the judicial imbroglio over the national convention of the opposition party has led to delivery of series of conflicting judgments from the Port Harcourt and Abuja divisions of the high court.
Okpoko called on the CJN and the NJC to step in immediately to control the situation so as to save the justice system from further ridicule.
The NBA president, A.B. Mahmud (SAN), in his address, reiterated the need for the Bar to guard the reputation of the judiciary jealously.
“On our part, we shall continue to be strong advocates of the greater independence of the judiciary; that means we will fight even those within who seek to undermine its reputation,” he said.
Speaking on the state of the nation, Mahmud admitted that the country was facing daunting challenges.
“Getting out of our present situation demands the concerted efforts of all citizens and all institutions. The expectation of the legal profession is enormous. We must demonstrate patriotism and leadership as well as knowledge and skills. We must work to enhance confidence in the legal system, promote the rule of law, guarantee protection of citizens as well promote the sanctity of contractual obligations, thereby improving the business environment,” Mahmud said.
Bello, Wada, Faleke know fate today
The Supreme Court will today, in Abuja deliver judgment in the Kogi State governorship tussle.
The former governor of Kogi state, Captain Idris Wada, and James Faleke, the running mate of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), who died few hours before the announcement of the result of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had dragged Governor Yahaya Bello to court to challenge his emergence as the state governor.
The election petition tribunal of the state and the Court of Appeal had both dismissed their petitions against the governor for lacking in merit.
The apex court is expected to hear the appeal today and determine it one way or the other.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed by Faleke and Captain Wada against Bello’s election by four-to-one split decision.
The APC had presented Bello as its governorship candidate and retained Faleke as its deputy governorship candidate after Prince Audu died before the conclusion of the first round of the election held on November 21.
INEC declared Bello the winner of the election after the conclusion of the supplementary poll which took place in 91 polling units in the state on December 6, 2015.
Faleke had approached the appeal court challenging the judgment of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal delivered on June 6, which affirmed Bello as the duly elected governor, following the November 21, 2015 election and the December 6, 2015 supplementary poll.
A five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, in dismissing Faleke’s appeal, ruled against him in all the six issues he raised.