Referred to by many as á la carte judgments, Nigerian courts of coordinate jurisdictions in a number of political cases issued conflicting and counteracting interim orders directing leaders of political parties to either vacate or resume office, recognition of a political aspirant or another as a party’s flag bearer for the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But against this, it would be recalled that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko, summoned chief judges of six states over conflicting and counteracting interim orders by judges in their domains. Affected states are Rivers, Kebbi, Cross River, Anambra, Jigawa and Imo.
In this interview with ADETUNJI AYOBROWN, Barrister Shehu Salaudeen, popularly known as ‘Kowa’ bears his mind over this and other national issues.
Both the courts and the lawyers are all right, because whatever is presented before the court is what will determine and base its decisions on. Evidences, processes and prayers that the items the court will look into and base its judgement on is before it.
Exparte order, as it is will not put the other party on notice, it is a case of approaching the court for a relief or order. By so doing, the court only considers merits or otherwise before granting such. But, if the other party feel aggrieved by not put them on notice, they too can approach another court to challenge the prayer, the motion and the order of the court. They are all right, both the lawyers and courts were all right.
The court is not a court of father Christmas or charity home; it will not award what is not prayed for. But if any of the parties felt upset about a court order; there is a clear position of the constitution that the other party has that right to challenge the court order, either to appeal or to file a similar thing. For example, if someone file an application, there will always be a court of coordinate jurisdiction, court of same power to challenge that.
The lower court cannot challenge the decision of a higher court, for instance the Court of Appeal cannot challenge the Supreme Court, while any other lower courts cannot do same to the Appeal Court. But only courts of same jurisdiction can challenge each other. The decision made by a high court does not supersede any other high courts and that is the problem and what emanated the matter.
Anyone can approach a court to seek for a relief of a right, so also, if another party still have a right, he can also approach another court.
Court of same jurisdiction has the right to challenge each other. Because by going to court of same power it is not challenging the court but testing if they have the right or not to restrain on the order. Only the Appeal Court can challenge the decision of an high court.
Though, it is an abuse of court process which should not be allowed under cases of same party for same subject matter. if two of same parties are in the court with similar prayers is like wasting the time of the court.
Courts must seriously consider what the public will say about our judicial system and arbitrary use of exparte orders, what the law says and why. If the prayer is substantial and surrounding circumstances. This will go far to assist the judiciary in the dispensation of justice.
Not all applications must be issued by the court, if that must be done, any harm to the other parties must be considered, they must be ‘somoto’, court must order the other parties to be put on notice.
In case of PDP, if truly they knew that time of its national chairman has lapsed, there is no reason he should not be in court to state why he should not be removed.
Justice is tripartite, the judiciary must address the matter as its own, for the party and the public (the masses). Court must see that this matter is tripartite.
Same system since 80s, with only slight difference which appear on its face. Our judiciary needs to be changed from what we have since all these years. Change is a must now
There must be an avenue, for instance of web where cases like that are announced for all interested parties and the general public to see.
The PDP case for example, a member suing another member while another member suing same member for the same reason is waste of time of the court. That is one of the little fault on part of the judiciary.
So, sir what are you saying in essence?
Many like myself had expect such CJN’s action long ago before now. Nigeria political faults little of which can be levelled at the doors of the judiciary.
Laws can be tested if anyone feels any of these laws are not doing the right thing. The system of court needs to be changed because things are not static. There should be dynamism in the judiciary with better innovations. Things are subject to changes; things cannot remain same forever.
But in a situation like this, the President of the Federal High Court can harmonise, provide an avenue for such to be resolved because the court is not static. There must be an innovation, law can be tested, eve life itself is subject to changes. The court needs to be changed.