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EX-PARTE ORDER ABUSE: Yadudu says politicians, lawyers are culprits, not judges; Akpabio disagrees

EX-PARTE ORDER ABUSE: Yadudu says politicians, lawyers are culprits, not judges; Akpabio disagrees

Nigerian constitutional lawyer, Professor Auwal Yadudu, has said politicians, not judges, should be blamed for the abuse of ex parte orders.

in an interview with Daily Trust on Wednesday, he said, “To begin with, judges don’t look for people to seek ex parte orders. It is the politicians who come to them, and a courtroom is such a sacred place that those who preside over it have no right to turn away litigants without hearing them.

“Of course, ex parte orders are meant for emergencies where rights would be irreparably damaged if the party was not heard urgently, but now they are being abused by the politicians. That’s why I think it is inappropriate for those who take advantage of the system to now come and point accusing fingers at the judges,” he said.

READ ALSO: NIGERIA: Yadudu faults parliamentary system of government, says recent clamour driven by nostalgia, not reality

He added that lawyers who present these motions before the judges, knowing and concealing other facts from the judges so as to get the court to grant the order, are also to blame for the bastardisation of the otherwise noble legal invention to protect against irreparable abuse of rights.

Asked if this is the practice in other jurisdictions, the legal luminary said the practice is different in other jurisdictions, adding that the idea behind ex-parte order is to protect fundamental rights that could be irreparably threatened before the conclusion of the substantive suit.

“The judges are the wrong people to be accused of excessive use of ex-parte orders because people take advantage of the position of the court never to turn people away without hearing them. In this place, they are blaming the victims.

“Obviously, the lawyers were not circumspect in filing these motions. It is the politicians, in concert with their lawyers, that are bringing the process into disrepute. I will think lawyers will take some of the blame.”

READ ALSO: Avoid Taking The Slippery Slope Path To Constitution Review

On what can be done to address this problem, Yadudu noted that ex-parte order abuse is just one of the many issues in the justice system that need to be addressed.

He said although the NJC could not just sit back and stop judges from granting ex-parte orders, it should look at ways of providing safety measures for the sort of issues that should qualify for this order.

“For example, these are political cases. It is not like someone is being arrested, locked up, or threatened with some physical harm or deprivation of rights. The system can itself be adjusted if it has become so rampant and unrestrained,” he added.

Punish judges severely – Akpabio

Godswill Akpabio, Prof Auwalu Yadudu, EX-PARTE ORDER ABUSE, Politicians, Lawyers Judges
Senator Godswill Akpabio

Meanwhile, Senate President Godswill Akpiabio on Wednesday called on the authorities of the nation’s judiciary to stop the misuse of ex parte orders, especially in political cases by judges.

Mr Akpiabio said this at the National Summit on Justice in Abuja.

He said the National Judicial Council (NJC) needed to exercise stringent oversight to curb the misuse of ex parte orders.

Akpabio said, “We recommend prompt and decisive punishment for erring judges who are found to be involved in this abuse. 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.

READ ALSO: Prof Yadudu says Supreme Court judgement in Atiku, Obi’s presidential election petitions ‘faultless’

“These sanctions should be severe enough to deter people from future abuses. We recommend that the NJC should conduct regular audits and reviews of ex parte orders issued by judges to ensure compliance with established standards.”

Akpabio said the proactive approach would help identify patterns of abuse early and administer corrective measures promptly. He also emphasised the importance of ongoing training and education for Judges on the ethical and responsible use of judicial discretion in issuing ex parte orders.

Akpabio also called for a reform in the approach to interlocutory appeals in civil cases, saying that current appeals often cause unnecessary delays, prolong litigation and burden to the courts.

“As was done in the criminal jurisprudence during the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, we propose that all appeals in civil cases should be taken only after the conclusion of the substantive case. This change will accelerate judicial processes, reduce backlog, and ensure that litigation is not unduly prolonged by intermediate appeals.

“Another area requiring urgent reform is the process of 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,” the Senate president explained.

He added, “We propose modifying this requirement to facilitate a swifter execution of judgments, thereby enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our justice system.”

Akpabio said these reforms foster trust in the justice system and improve the overall efficiency of legal proceedings involving the government.

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