The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammadu yesterday came heavily on seven invited Chief Judges that were invited over conflicting judgement emanating from their courts.
The CJN had a marathon meeting with the seven invited Chief Judges (CJs) over the conflicting ex parte orders.
According to a statement issued by the Director of Information of the NJC, Soji Oye, the meeting which commenced at 11 a.m., and lasted till 5:30 p.m., began with a one-on-one interaction with the CJs in this order: Chief Judge, FCT, Abuja Chief Judge, Rivers State Chief Judge, Kebbi State Chief Judge, Cross River State Chief Judge, Jigawa State Chief Judge, Anambra State Chief Judge, Imo State
According to him 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.
“A visibly angry CJN was reported to have stated that damage to one jurisdiction is 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 an act,” he said.
The CJN stated that three of the Judges who granted conflicting ex parte orders have been invited to appear before the National Judicial Council to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting ex parte orders.
He, however, warned the CJs to henceforth avoid unnecessary assumption of jurisdiction in matters with similar subjects and parties already before another court, protect the court from lawyers that are out for forum shopping and work in tandem with all their Judges to salvage the image of the Judiciary.
“Hon. Dr. Justice Muhammad also warned the CJs from 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 reemphasize 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,” he said.
The CJN advised all Heads of Court to be current on the development in the polity and the judgments delivered by courts of various jurisdictions and to urgently issue practice direction to guide Judges in their various courts to avoid giving conflicting decisions.
He concluded that the Judiciary will no longer condone indiscipline or allow any Judge to tarnish the image of the Judiciary