Conflicting ex parte orders: CJN issues strong warning to state chief judges, others

Justice Mohammed Tanko, Chief Justice of the Federation: warns against indiscriminate granting of ex-parte orders

By Ebere Agozie

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, says the Judiciary will no longer condone indiscipline or allow any Judge to tarnish its image.

The CJN gave the warning on Monday, in Abuja, at a marathon meeting with seven invited state Chief Judges over conflicting ex parte orders.

According to a statement by Mr Soji Oye, the Supreme Court Director of information, the meeting which commenced at 11 a.m. lasted until 5:30 p.m.

The meeting began with a one-on-one interaction with the CJ in this order:  FCT Abuja, Rivers State, Kebbi State

Cross River State, Jigawa State, Anambra State, and Imo States.

The Chief judges were separately questioned personally by the CJN for over an hour, before reading them the riot act in a joint session involving all of them.

He vowed to make an example with three of the seven Judges, saying, “never shall we condone such acts”.

Mohammad said that the three Judges who granted conflicting ex parte orders are to appear before the National Judicial Council, to show why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for granting the conflicting orders.

A visibly angry CJN was reported to have stated that “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 ones, personally”.

He warned the CJs to henceforth avoid unnecessary assumption of jurisdiction in matters with similar subject 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.

“Stop making newly appointed judicial officers vacation judges and assigning complex cases to inexperienced Judges,” he added.

Muhammad also disclosed that all Heads of Courts would be invited to a meeting to re-emphasise  the need for the judiciary to be circumspect in granting ex parte orders and that he will also meet with the NBA Leadership on the issue.

He advised all Heads of Courts to be current on developments in the polity and the judgments delivered by courts of various jurisdictions, and to urgently issue practice directions to guide judges in their various courts, so as to avoid conflicting decisions.