Quit Conflicting Judgments, Cjn Tells Appeal Court Justices
BEVERLY HILLS, January 03, (THEWILL) – Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has told Justices of the Court of Appeal to quit delivering conflicting judgements as he addressed them at the Annual Conference of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The counsel was in reaction to a number of accusations by political parties affected by the decisions of the Court of Appeal in electoral matters who accused the justices of delivering conflicting judgments in similar cases and refusing to follow the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court
“We must not ignore the negative perception that is occasioned by conflicting judgments delivered at various divisions of the Court of Appeal,” he said.
“Such judicial contradictions only result in untold hardships to litigants in their quest for justice. They further cast your lordships in an unfavourable light and leave the judiciary at the mercy of inuendos, crass publications and editorials.
“As the guardians of the law, we must not only be just but also convey certainty in our justness.
“My Lords, it bears reminding that the overriding objective of every legal system in the world is to do justice. However, this cannot be achieved where there is confusion as to the state of the law as pronounced by the court.”
“As your lordships will agree, where an aggrieved person perceives, whether rightly or wrongly, that they will not receive justice, such a situation can indeed bode ill for the community in which he lives and can lead to acrimony and anarchy.”
He told the justices that they were not allowed to continue to shift the goalposts when the game was on and advised them to stop creating confusion.
The CJN also preferred a solution as he advised the Court of Appeal to “have an internal law report for Justices to access either electronically or in print in order to reduce the avenue for conflict in its jurisprudence.”
He also recommended the advice given in 2008 by Niki Tobi, a former justice of the Supreme Court, who suggested that, “immediately a decision is given in one division, it should be sent to the other division without delay.”
This according to him will put an end to a situation where a division of the Court of Appeal delivers a judgment that contradicts the one delivered by another division.
Justice Mahmud later commended the justices for the good work they were doing and praised the president of the court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, for the way she constituted election petitions tribunals in spite of budgetary constraints.
“I must similarly commend your lordships for being instrumental in propelling the judiciary towards an improved system of administration of justice in Nigeria. With one justice of appeal to 1.8 million Nigerians, I daresay that your efforts at dispensing justice, despite frightening caseloads, can best be described as extraordinary,” he said.
Justice Zainab in her speech revealed that the annual justices' conference was introduced by former President of the court, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, to enable the court take stock of its activities for the year, identify challenges and proffer solutions.
She identified 2015 as quite challenging because it was an election year and told the justices that because of the new policy of zero budgeting, the court would not embark on new projects but would strive to complete all existing ones.