The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and a leader of the Body of Senior Advocates on Nigeria, T. J. O. Okpoko (SAN), on Monday expressed dismay at the rising trend of conflicting judgments by courts in the country.
Justice Mohammed, Malami and Okpoko said instances where lower courts of coordinate jurisdiction render conflicting judgments on similar cases and at some instances, ignore established precedents were harmful to the integrity and reputation of the judiciary.
The CJN, who disclosed that the worrying trend was currently being investigated by the National Judicial Council (NJC), assured that appropriate punitive actions would be taken against judges found wanting in this regard.
Justice Mohammed, Malami and Okpoko spoke in Abuja during a special court session to mark the commencement of the Supreme Court’s 2016/2017 new legal year and the swearing-in of newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
In all, 22 lawyers including the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Olanrewaju Onadeko, were conferred with the rank.
The CJN said: “It is with great trepidation and dismay that I note the growing disregard for laid down precedent in decisions from various levels of courts, even the appellate court.
“I am of the firm conviction that every court in Nigeria is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and shall not graft a different outcome from those expressly laid down by the Supreme Court.
“Such departures from precedent therefore risk creating the type of confusion, which is inimical to the trust reposed in us by the people and we risk our reputations, our integrity and even our existence by such indiscipline.
“Several conflicting decisions were recklessly dished out by the Court of Appeal last year in appeals arising from various decisions of the election petitions tribunals, given on election petitions filed by the parties who lost in the general elections conducted in April 2015. “