The Nigerian Bar Association has expressed worry over what it describes as contradictory court judgments in the country, especially among courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
The association’s position was contained in a statement by its President, Olumide Akpata, and sighted on social media.
The NBA particularly knocked lawyers, especially senior ones, who it said continue to yield themselves to be used as willing tools by politicians to wantonly abuse the judicial process.
The statement read, “The Nigerian Bar Association has observed with dismay the unfortunate and recurring trend of contradictory court decisions and orders, especially among courts of coordinate jurisdiction, typically arising from ex parte applications and almost always in political matters.
“While the Nigerian judiciary has in the past made invaluable contributions to the development of the country, there are nevertheless past failings which 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.
“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. Indeed, they do nothing but bring the Judiciary and the entire system of administration of justice to ridicule.
“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.”
According to Akpata, the NBA also agreed with Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Court of Appeal in her condemnation of the indulgence by some judicial officers of politicians who go round the country shopping for judgments, and who thereby bring the Judiciary to public ridicule.
He added, “I will on behalf of the NBA, urgently seek audience with My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria to address this issue holistically, the support of the Chairman of the NBA Judiciary Committee, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN as well as the Chairpersons of the NBA Section of Legal Practice (NBA-SLP) and NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Mr. Oluwaseun Abimbola, SAN and Dr. Monday Ubani for this proposed engagement.
“The NBA, as the prime defender of the integrity and independence of the Judiciary, cannot and will not be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few.
“This is particularly so as the nation approaches its next round of general elections. It can no longer be business as usual.”