CJN vows action against judges issuing conflicting court orders

On Wednesday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, criticized the proliferation of misleading and contradictory judgments issued by courts of equal authority across the country.

He stated that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has initiated measures to ensure that judges responsible for such “despicable and odious conduct” face consequences.

During the inauguration of 22 judges to the Court of Appeal Bench, the CJN expressed concern over the numerous frivolous interlocutory orders from various courts, which he said continue to undermine the judicial system.

He said: “I have made it known at different fora that we have been treated to an unpalatable cocktail of misleading and conflicting judgments as well as frivolous interlocutory orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdictions, which have literally attempted to make a mockery of our judicial system and flagrantly desecrate the revered Temple of Justice.

“Several cases of such abound across the length and breadth of the country. This is, largely, an embarrassment to our jurisprudence, and we will never handle it with levity.

“Punitive measures must definitely be meted out to such erring Judges. We have already activated the process of reining-in such errant Judges with a view to making them face the consequence of their despicable and odious conduct.

“As Judicial Officers, we have to continually remind ourselves the fact that we are not occupying our respective positions to serve ourselves, but the Nigerian masses; and the best way we can serve them is by doing what will make them feel safe in our hands and also trust us to always deliver the right judgments that will not be tainted by sentiments, emotions or other clandestine considerations.”

Justice Ariwoola, who also administered the oath to 12 legal practitioners recently appointed as judges of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, urged the new judicial officers to consistently uphold their oath of office.

He highlighted the unprecedented nature of the judicial appointments, noting that the Court of Appeal had not seen such a large number of justices inaugurated since June 28, when 18 justices were sworn in simultaneously.

“Today’s ceremony is an indication of the perilous times that we are currently in, which has resulted in an upsurge in litigation.

“Several unfathomable crimes are being committed in the country, aside from the usual political matters that have made litigation’s to go on alarming rise.

“No court in the land is spared of this litigation deluge, as it were. We are constantly on our toes and the dockets are ever increasing in response to the challenges of the time.

“This underscores the fact that Nigeria is fast emerging as a front-line crime-infested country that we all have to urgently curtail,” the CJN stated.

According to him, the enormous task of cleaning the Augean stable rests squarely on the Justices.

The CJN said, “Your Lordships, so, you must hastily fasten your belt and roll up your sleeves to face the challenges head-on.

“In other words, you should hit the ground speeding at a supersonic velocity; and not just running. You must redouble your pace to catch up with the expectations of the sprawling community of litigants.

“As judicial officers, you have a divine mandate on earth that you must discharge with unveiled honesty and sincerity. You must give good account of yourselves to justify your elevation to the Court of Appeal.

“In the next couple of months, we shall be having two governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States, respectively.

“As usual, the courts will be besieged with Plethora of petitions. It is our statutory duty to hear all matters that come before us and adjudicate according to the laws of the land.

“We must not falter; and we must not tread the path of infamy. Yes, it is true that we cannot please everyone through our actions and work, but with the right application of the law and the Constitution of the land, which we all have collectively pledged to uphold, we can go a long way to do those things that our conscience will be very proud of; and the generality of the Nigerian citizens will equally be happy about.

“Every position we attain in life always avails us that unique opportunity to do something novel and impactful, especially if there was any previous act of wrongdoing or misapplication of discretion.

“With Your Lordships’ elevation to the higher Bench today, you have to be very mindful of the enormous confidence the public is now reposing in you vis-a-vis their expectations.

“Like we often say, to whom much is given, much is expected. Your Lordships must not rest on your oars, as the onus now lies more heavily on you to discharge your judicial duties more dispassionately, discretionally, and transparently.

“So, you must, individually and collectively, guide your loins to do more to earn lasting trust and integrity.

“Your conduct and disposition must tally with the yearnings and aspirations of the generality of the citizenry.”

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