The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the “unfortunate and recurring trend” of contradictory court decisions on political matters.
TheCable had reported that Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), summoned six judges over conflicting orders issued in their courts.
The CJN issued the summons on Monday, requesting the judges to explain their recent court orders.
Reacting in a statement, 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”.
“It is in this regard that we view with concern the recurring contradictory decisions by our courts, based on apparently indiscriminate grant of orders and counter-orders, in a way that evokes memories of those eerie and unwanted dark days,” he said.
“We must of necessity reference the orders relating to the nomination of candidates by political parties for the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Anambra State and the equally embarrassing situation playing out in respect of the PDP leadership crisis that has seen three different contradictory rulings by courts of coordinate jurisdiction, in circumstances that leave a lot to be desired.
“These developments in our courts are antithetical to the actualisation of the just society and independent judiciary that we all aspire to, and they run contrary to everything we teach and hold dear as a profession.
“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.
“In our view, these actions contravene the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 (“RPC”) especially the cardinal Rule 1 of the RPC which requires a lawyer to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”
He added that the NBA, as the prime defender of the integrity and independence of the judiciary, “will not be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few”.
The NBA president also said he would seek an audience with the CJN to address the issue “holistically”.