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CJN summons six chief judges over conflicting orders

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Tanko Muhammad

• NBA moves to ‘address issue holistically’
• Judicial staff cautioned on negative activities
• A2J seeks justice for victims of enforced disappearance

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has summoned six Chief Judges over conflicting court orders that emanated from their states in the last one month.

The affected Judges are those of Rivers, Kebbi, Cross River, Anambra, Jigawa and Imo States.

Muhammad, who is the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), issued the summons in Abuja, yesterday.

The meeting is a prelude to a larger appearance before the NJC, likely to hold next week.

The summon reads in part: “My attention has been drawn to media reports to the effect that some courts of coordinate jurisdiction were granting conflicting ex parte orders on the same subject matter.

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“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.”
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, meanwhile, has said he will “urgently seek audience with My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria to address this issue holistically.”

In a statement, yesterday, Akpata said the NBA “has observed with dismay the unfortunate and recurring trend of contradictory court decisions and orders, especially among courts of coordinate jurisdiction, typically arising from ex parte applications and almost always in political matters.”

According to him, the developments are antithetical to the actualisation of a just society and independent judiciary. “They run contrary to everything we teach and hold dear as a profession. Indeed, they do nothing but bring the Judiciary and the entire system of administration of justice to ridicule.”

He, however, noted: “Before blaming the judges, we must first look inwards and call out our members, most of whom are senior members of the Bar, who continue to yield themselves to be used as willing tools by politicians to wantonly abuse the judicial process.”

He added: “The NBA, as the prime defender of the integrity and independence of the Judiciary, cannot and will not be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few.”

Muhammad also cautioned judicial officials and court staff, yesterday, against actions that could taint their integrity.

He gave the warning while delivering a keynote address at the 2021 Virtual National Workshop for Chief Registrars, Deputy Chief Registrars, Directors and Secretaries of the Judicial Service Commission, held at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja.

The theme of the workshop was ‘Transparency in the Administration of Justice’.

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According to the CJN, the topic underscored the need to protect and promote public perception of the judiciary, which he said is largely dependent on transparency and integrity.

THIS came as Access2Justice called for justice for victims of enforced disappearance.

It made the call, yesterday, as the world commemorated International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance.

A statement signed by Convener, Joseph Otteh, and Project Director, Deji Ajare, also called on security agencies to respect the Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearance, of which Nigeria is party and provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Police Act.

The statement noted that although the Convention strictly prohibits the ugly act, this has not stopped governments and other political actors who continue to use it.

Access2Justice reiterated commitment to supporting victims and their families in the quest for justice, especially persons who were ‘made to disappear’ after the #ENDSARS protests, those who disappeared in the North East in the course of the war against terrorism, and persons who disappeared in the South East in the course of the clampdown against the Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network.

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