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Stop Judges from abusing ex parte orders, Akpabio tells NJC

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio has urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to rein in judges’ giant penchant for ex parte orders, especially in political matters.

Ex parte is used to refer to motions for orders that can be granted without waiting for a response from the other side.

The orders are only in place until further hearings can be held, such as a temporary restraining order.

However, it is a dime a dozen in Nigerian judicial system most especially in political cases as courts of coordinate jurisdiction issue conflicting orders.

Underscored by the recent cases involving the former governors of Kano and Kogi states, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Yahaya Bello respectively, Akpabio on Wednesday charged NJC to arrest its abuse.

The Senate President made the call at the National Summit on Justice, 2024, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja,

In his speech entitled ‘Repositioning the Justice System: Constitutional, Statutory, and Operational Reforms for Access and Efficiency’, the former Akwa-Ibom State governor said NJC needed to curb the practice through the the instrument of regulations.

According to him, “We further propose that the NJC establish clear and detailed standards governing the issuance of ex parte orders, accompanied by a defined set of sanctions for violations.

“These sanctions should be severe enough to deter people from future abuses.”

Speaking further, “Another area requiring urgent reform is the need for obtaining the attorney-general’s consent before executing judgments. This requirement often acts as a bottleneck, delaying justice and undermining the autonomy of our judicial system.

“We propose modifying this requirement to facilitate a swifter execution of judgments, thereby enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our justice system. We are not ignorant of the rationale for securing the attorney-general’s consent as stipulated in sections of the Sheriff and Civil Processes Act, which is to avoid the embarrassment of not knowing that funds earmarked for specific purposes have been diverted in satisfaction of a judgment debt which the government may not know anything about.

“In our view, to enhance efficiency while maintaining necessary checks, we propose replacing the requirement for the attorney-general’s consent with a mandatory notification system. Upon receiving a judgment against the government, the relevant authorities will notify the Attorney-General immediately in writing.

“Following the notification, the attorney-general will have a specified period, say 30 days, to respond. The response could involve initiating an appeal or settling the matter directly. This timeline ensures prompt action and prevents undue delays in justice delivery.

“Finally, we must try and curb the misuse of ex parte orders in political cases by our judges. To curb it, it is imperative that the National Judicial Council exercises stringent oversight. We recommend prompt and decisive punishment for judges who are found to abuse their authority in this manner.’’

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