The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammed, has directed three of the judges who granted conflicting ex parte orders h to appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC) to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting conflicting ex parte orders.
The CJN gave the directive yesterday when he and three other very senior judicial officers grilled seven Chief Judges over conflicting court orders in their various jurisdictions.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the CJN descended verbally on the Chief Judges over conflicting court orders that have emanated in their states in the last one month.
Those who were at the meeting were the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensen; the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and the president of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip.
Last week, the CJN had summoned the Chief Judges over conflicting court orders in their various jurisdictions.
The CJs are that of FCT, Abuja, Rivers State, Kebbi State, Cross River State, Jigawa State, Anambra State and Imo State.
Shortly after the meeting, the director of information, Mr Soji Oye, said NJC will meet with all heads of court in the country and the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the issue.
The CJN, he noted, warned Chief Judges to desist from granting ex parte orders especially on political matters.
He said, ”The Chief Justice of Nigeria today had a marathon meeting with the seven invited Chief Judges (CJs) over the conflicting ex parte orders. The meeting which commenced at 11 am, and lasted till 5:30 pm, began with a one-on-one interaction with the CJs in this order: 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.”
According to the director of information, a visibly angry CJN was reported to have said, “A damage to one jurisdiction is a damage to all. We must therefore put an end to indiscriminate granting of ex parte 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 CJN stated that three of the Judges who granted conflicting ex parte orders have been invited to appear before the NJC to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting ex parte orders.
He warned the CJs to henceforth avoid unnecessary assumption of jurisdiction in matters with similar subjects and parties already before another court.
He said they must protect the court from lawyers who 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.
He revealed that all heads of courts will be invited to a meeting to re-emphasise 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.
LEADERSHIP reports 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 before issuing the summons last week, the CJN complained bitterly about 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.
CJN Quizzes 6 Chief Judges Today Over Conflicting Exparte Orders(Opens in a new browser tab)