Apparently miffed by the conflicting court orders that have emanated in their states in the last one month, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has summoned six Chief Judges (CJs) in the country.
The chief judges summoned by Justice Muhammad are Justices Chibuzor Amadi of Rivers State, Mohammed Ambursa of Kebbi, Ijeoma Agugua of Imo, Onochie Anyachebelu of Anambra, Akon Ikpeme of Cross River and Umar Sadiq of Jigawa.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the latest of such interim injunctions by the courts that overstretched the patience of the CJN beyond elastic limit are the conflicting orders sacking and restating Prince Uche Secondus as national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was gathered that the CJN complained bitterly on the huge embarrassment caused to Nigeria’s judiciary by the actions of those who issued the conflicting orders upon ex-parte applications by some political parties.
The conflicting court order, which the NJC considered to be indiscriminate, has deepened the crisis in the PDP, leaving the major opposition party in a lock jam.
A High Court in Rivers State had last week Monday ordered Secondus to stop parading himself as the chairman of the party.
Three days after, a High Court in Kebbi State granted an experte motion for a stay of execution on the interim injunction by the Rivers court.
On August 27, another High Court sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, granted an order restraining Secondus from resuming office as PDP national chairman.
The CJN who is also chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) issued the summons to the chief judges yesterday preparatory to their appearance before the NJC whose duty is sanction erring judicial officers.
After meeting with the CJN, the CJs are expected to appear before an enlarged meeting by the NJC to explain the basis for issuing of conflicting exparte and interim orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
According to the summon, the affected Chief Judges are to appear before him as a prelude to the larger one by the NJC to explain what warranted issuance of conflicting orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
The summons reads in part: “My attention has been drawn to media reports to the effect that some Courts of coordinate jurisdiction were granting conflicting Exparte Orders on the same subject matter.
“It has become expedient for me to invite you for a detailed briefing on the development. This is even more compelling having regard to earlier NJC Warning to judicial officers on the need to be circumspect in granting ex-parte applications”.
Our source, who pleaded anonymity, confided in our correspondent that the meeting between the CJN and the Heads of Court concerned is a prelude to the larger NJC meeting likely to hold next week.
“The CJN who was reported to be worried and bitter about the unfortunate development intends to use the meeting to be seized of the facts for an informed NJC deliberation,” the source said.
Shortly after the judges were summoned, some senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) commended the CJN for the swift action taken to look into what they described as reckless court orders.
Reacting to the development, a professor of law, Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, described the order as reckless.
According to him, a judge in Kebbi cannot give an order in a case filed in Rivers state.
He said, “He (the judge) is supposed to know that he does not have jurisdiction in the matter. You are in Kebbi State and a matter came up in Rivers and you involved yourself. You should know as a judge that you lack jurisdiction.
”Why would you sit in Kebbi and involve yourself in a matter in Rivers? The judge should know that the case lacks every ingredient of jurisdiction in it and the best thing he should have done was to wash off his hands.”
Another senior advocate, Abdul Balogun, commended the NJC for taking actions against them, saying judges should learn from events of the past.
“This is not the first time the judiciary is experiencing this and I would have expected that the judges would have learnt from the mistakes of others.
“They should come and answer their summons and if anyone is found to have conducted himself in a bad manner, he should be dealt with according to the NJC Act”, he submitted.