By Tobi Soniyi and Adebiyi Adedapo
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Dahiru Musdapher Monday in Abuja urged newly appointed judges and Khadis to abide by the ethics and integrity of the bench just as he warned them against issuing ex-parte orders.
Speaking at the 2012 induction course for new judges and Khadis organised by the National Judicial Institute, the CJN advised them to guard the public trust reposed on them jealously.
He said: “I must say that by your appointment, public trust is reposed in you to be saddled with the responsibility of deciding over the matters of men. I therefore urge you all to jealously guard this public trust and ensure that you do not betray same. One of the ways you can ensure that you do not betray this trust is to adhere strictly to the ethics, comportment and integrity of the bench.”
He urged them to bear in mind at all times that the oath of office they took as judicial officers was a covenant with fundamental virtues like honesty, honour, probity, integrity and impartiality.
He drew the attention of the judges to the cannons of their adjudicatory duties as judicial officers especially as it related to issuance of interim injunctions, ex-parte.
He quoted Rule 2(2) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which asked judicial officer to avoid the abuse of the power of issuing interim injunctions, ex- parte.
“Please bear in mind that the purport of this rule is not to prohibit the grant of interim orders ex-parte but rather, the rule is against the abuse of same,” he declared.
He said the decisions of some of courts on ex-parte injunctions seemed to put individual interest over and above the collective national interest in Nigeria.
He noted that public functionaries had in the past been restrained from performing their constitutional and statutory duties at the instance of an exuberant individual without hearing them.
He asked, “For instance my Lords, how do we explain a court of law restraining a university by an order of ex-parte injunction from holding convocation to award degrees to over a thousand graduating students just because two students who failed their examinations had applied to the court for a declaration that they too were entitled to be awarded degrees? Or that of a law court issuing an ex-parte order to deny electricity to a town just because of a dispute between two contractors?
“Bear in mind that ex-parte injunction was designed with good and laudable intention as the vehicle for the carriage of instant justice in proper cases. Thus you must ensure that it is not converted into a bulldozer for the demolition of substantial justice,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address the Administrator of NJI, Justice Umaru Eri while congratulating the new judges and Khadis said that the induction course was unique as every judicial officer in the country was expected to go through it once in his life time on the bench.
He said: “This course is a compulsory one. It is a mandatory one and a judicial officer has no option as to whether to attend and participate or not. As the name indicates it is a course where those newly appointed to discharge adjudicatory duties in the Federal Highs, National Industrial Court, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Courts of States, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal in the states and the FCT. This one course is where the participants are told the dos and don’ts of a calling to which they have taken oath of office.”
Meanwhile, In the query with reference number: NJC/F.3/FHC.22/1/134 dated May 17, 2012 and signed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of NJC, Justice Dahiru Musdapher copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, NJC requested Justice Archibong to explain within one month the allegation of abuse of judicial process levied against him by the PDP through its counsel, Chief Olajide Ajana.