Abuja — Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, yesterday, warned judges to stop issuing frivolous ex-parte injunctions, saying it has been "converted into a bulldozer for the demolition of substantial justice."
The CJN who gave the admonition at the opening ceremony of the 2012 induction course for newly appointed judges and Kadis, at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja, said though "ex-parte injunction was designed with good and laudable intention as a vehicle for the carriage of instant justice in proper cases," it has been repeatedly abused.
Urging the new judges to respect and adhere to their oath of office, Musdapher stressed that "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 said: "I must say that by your appointment, public trust is reposed in you to be saddled with the responsibility of deciding over matters of men. I, therefore, urge you all, to jealously guard this public trust and ensure that you do not betray same.
"You must bear in mind at all times, my Lords, that your oath of office as Judicial Officers is a covenant with such fundamental virtues like honesty, honour, probity, integrity and impartiality.
"My Lords, I am inclined to draw your attention to the canons of your adjudicatory duties as Judicial Officers especially as relates to issuance of interim injunction, ex-parte. Rule 2(2) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states: 'A judicial Officer must avoid the abuse of the power of issuing interim injunctions, ex-parte.'
"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 examination had applied to the court for a declaration that they too were entitled to be awarded degrees?
"Or that of a court of law issuing an ex-parte order to deny electricity to a town just because of a dispute between two contractors?
"As you commence a career on the Bench, it is imperative for you to remember that as Judicial Officers, we do not campaign for or stand election. We do not have the power over the purse or revenue of the state. We do not have a garrison of army to fight our cause or enforce our orders and decisions.
"Our authority rests solely on the public perception of our integrity and absolute impartiality. I had said time without number that public confidence in our courts will reduce incidences of resort to self help and people taking laws into their hands. Indeed, public confidence in the courts is a sine qua non for the sustenance of the society," he added.
Meanwhile, explaining rationale behind the theme of this year's induction programme, "Towards Enhancement of Capacity of Judicial Officers in Modern Time," the Administrator of NJI, Justice Umaruy Eri, said it was germane for the new judges to be well equipped and adequately prepared for the task of adjudication.
"This is also one course where the participants are formally told the "dos" and "don'ts" of a calling to which they have taken oath of office," he said.