Senior Advocate of Nigeria, J.S Okutepa has said that summoning of 6 judges by chief justice of Nigeria over alleged “Exparte Orders” goes beyond issuing statements.
In his post, J. S Okutepa says: ” I think the situations require much more than mere summoning and issuing statements of condemnation”.
In his full opinion as culled from his Facebook account, J.S Okutepa writes:
“Yesterday I read in the social media that the Hon the Chief Justice of Nigeria had summoned 6 Chief Judges of the States in which their judges were involved in issuing Ex-parte orders in political cases.
It was reported that the CJN was not impressed with such indiscriminate orders.
Again I read that the President of NBA, my own President Olumide Akpata issued a statement condemning these orders.
He was also reported to have stated that while the judiciary has made “invaluable contributions” to the development of the country, there are past failings that “would hopefully remain permanently interred in the dark annals of history”.
According to my president, “It is in this regard that we view with concern the recurring contradictory decisions by our courts, based on apparently indiscriminate grant of orders and counter-orders, in a way that evokes memories of those eerie and unwanted dark days,” “We must of necessity reference the orders relating to the nomination of candidates by political parties for the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Anambra State and the equally embarrassing situation playing out in respect of the PDP leadership crisis that has seen three different contradictory rulings by courts of coordinate jurisdiction, in circumstances that leave a lot to be desired.
“These developments in our courts are antithetical to the actualisation of the just society and independent judiciary that we all aspire to, and they run contrary to everything we teach and hold dear as a profession.
“Before blaming the judges, we must first look inwards and call out our members, most of whom are senior members of the Bar, who continue to yield themselves to be used as willing tools by politicians to wantonly abuse the judicial process.
“In our view, these actions contravene the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 (“RPC”) especially the cardinal Rule 1 of the RPC which requires a lawyer to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”
He added that the NBA, as the prime defender of the integrity and independence of the judiciary, “will not be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few”.
Let me start by saying that while the condemnation of these unethical actions of both the members of the Bar and the members of the Bench involved is commendable and I so commend the Hon the Chief Justice of Nigeria and President Olumide Akpata, I think the situations require much more than mere summoning and issuing statements of condemnation.
The judges and the lawyers involved in these unwholesome and unethical conduct and pollution of the stream of justice are not unknown gunmen.
They are known judges and known lawyers with known rules of professional conduct. I call on the Hon the Chief Justice of Nigeria as the chairman of NJC and the president of NBA to as a matter of national urgency bring those involved in these unethical embarrassment and sacrilegious professional misconduct in an infamous manner before the NJC and LPDC and let Justice be metted to them thereat.
The reason why we have the continuous reoccurrence of these unethical and infamous conduct in the legal profession is that we are too economical with sanctions.
The legal profession is profession of light and those who chose to represent darkness in the profession must be shown the way out. I do not believe that the political class should be blamed. Those lawyers and judges who abused their ethical codes should be made to face the music.
Mere condemnation will not do. The Hon the Chief Justice and the President of the Bar have these duties to do what needs to be done to repose confidence in the legal profession.
Our country is failing because the legal profession has failed. The legal profession which is a profession of light has in the most unacceptable ways become completely overshadowed by darkness due to actions and inactions of members of the legal profession.
Time to put out darkness from the profession to enable its illuminating light rule again is now and only the CJN and President of NBA can start the crusade with firm commitments that it is no business as usual from now”.