Punish Judges Abusing Ex Parte Orders-Akpabio Urges NJC

Senate President Godswill Akpabio on Wednesday called on judges to stop the misuse of ex parte orders, especially in political cases.

Akpabio said this in a speech entitled, “Repositioning the Justice System, Constitutional, Statutory and Operational Reforms for Access and Efficiency” at the National Summit on Justice in Abuja.

He said it was imperative for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to exercise stringent oversight to curb the misuse of ex parte order.

“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. 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,” he said.

He said the proactive approach would help in identifying patterns of abuse early and in administering 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 on 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 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 litigations are 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.

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

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

He said the National Assembly Committee on Constitutional Amendment and the Committee on Amendment of the Electoral Act were working to ensure that the transformative justice reforms were seamlessly integrated into the ongoing amendments.

“This integration will not only fortify our constitution and electoral framework but will also ensure that justice both in letter and in spirit becomes more attainable for every Nigerian.

”The national Assembly is not unaware of the delays and backlogs plaguing the courts, adding that the issues make justice be seen as inaccessible and inefficient,” Akpabio said.

He said the national assembly was committed to budgeting for implementation of judicial reforms that would include the adoption of digital tools to manage cases more effectively and ensure that justice was neither delayed nor denied.

He called on all stakeholders, including the legislative, executive and the judiciary to support the vital reforms.

“Together, we can build a justice system that is fit for the 21st century,”Akpabio said.

He expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for the appointment of Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) as the Minister of Justice, describing Fagbemi as `the right man for the job’.

He also expressed gratitude to the leadership of Nigerian Bar Association, the National Judicial Council headed by Justice Olukayode Ariwwoola for their relentless dedication and collaboration.

Akpabio said the steps toward reforming the justice system required unwavering commitment and concerted efforts to ensure realisation of the vision of enhancing justice delivery and constant upholding of the rule of law in Nigeria.(NAN)

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