By John Ikani
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN0 Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has summoned six Chief Judges in the country over the conflicting court orders emanating from their states in the last one month.
Muhammad who is the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), a statutory body concerned with appointment and disciplining of judges, issued the summons to the affected Chief Judges in Abuja on Monday.
The summons indicated that the affected Chief Judges are to appear before the NJC to explain what warranted the issuance of conflicting orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
Judicial officials summoned to face interrogation over the development are Chief Judges of states in the South-South, North-West and South-East regions.
The affected Judges are those of Rivers, Kebbi, Cross River, Anambra, Jigawa and Imo states.
They are to appear before the NJC to explain what warranted the issuance of conflicting orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
The CJN complained bitterly about the huge embarrassment caused the Nigeria’s judiciary by the actions of those who issued conflicting orders upon ex-parte applications by some political parties.
What you should know
The judiciary has seemingly joined the fray of political crisis rocking some political parties in the country by indiscriminately granting orders and counter-orders as requested by the different warring sides.
Lawyers say all the questionable orders were issued ex-parte with little regard for principles of territorial jurisdiction, caution expected of a judge in the handing of an ex parte hearing, and the need for a court to stay clear of a matter whose subject matter is already pending before a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
For instance, such orders have been issued concerning the choice of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the forthcoming election in Anambra State.
Desperate politicians have traversed courtrooms in different part of the country to obtain orders on the APGA’s governorship candidates for the forthcoming Anambra State election.
In just one week, three courts in different states also issued counter-orders about the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On August 24, a Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt restrained Uche Secondus from parading himself as PDP national chairman.
However, in another twist, the Kebbi State High Court in Birnin-Kebbi restored Mr Secondus’ mandate as the national chairman of the opposition PDP on August 27.
A day after Mr Secondus’ reinstatement, another High Court in Calabar, Cross River State, issued an interim order restraining him from resuming office as PDP chairman.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the “unfortunate and recurring trend” of contradictory court decisions on political matters.
Olumide Akpata, NBA president, said the actions of the six chief judges bring the judiciary and the entire system of administration of justice to ridicule.
He said while the judiciary has made “invaluable contributions” to the development of the country, there are past failings that “would hopefully remain permanently interred in the dark annals of history”.