Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, barred its judges across the federation from granting ex-parte orders in any political case brought before the court.
It equally directed that all pending political cases that could affect the opportunity of candidates to pursue their political ambition should be concluded before the end of next month.
Chief Judge of the High Court, Justice Abdul Abdu-Karafati, who gave the directives during a special session the court held to mark the commencement of its 2018/2019 Legal Year, said the decision was aimed at forestalling hiccups and the blame of the court by the political gladiators.
This is even as Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, vowed to prosecute any judicial officer found complicit in the leakage of judgments to litigants.
On his part, Abdu-Karafati said a circular had already been issued to judges to the effect “that interim orders ex parte shall not be granted in any political cases brought before the court.”
The Chief Judge said: “I believe that controversies especially in political cases can be reduced when the court takes a decision after hearing all the parties in the case.
“It is also extremely important that all political cases that may affect any of the parties which are still pending in any of our courts be concluded without further waste of time to afford all candidates the the opportunity to pursue their political ambitions.
“Hon Judges before whom such cases are still pending must endeavour to conclude them before the end of October, 2018.
“I urge your Lordships to be wary in handling all cases and especially cases concerning political parties and the upcoming general elections. We should again use this court and the constitution to regulate our society for the good of our children and mankind.
“I still believe that the judiciary remains the hope of all people whether common or uncommon.
“It is, therefore, your duty to ensure that the society is moulded in accordance with the rule of law and the constitution. You must therefore administer justice without fear or favour.”
The CJN, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Workshop for Secretaries, Registrars, Court Clerks, Protocol Officers, Bailiffs and other Administrative Staff of the Judiciary, organised by the National Judicial Institute, NJI, said there was need to preserve the integrity and independence of the courts.
Speaking when the High Court flagged off its new legal year, Onnoghen said it was imperative that court records and exhibits were properly managed.
“You must avoid temptation of leaking judgments for any consideration that will compromise your duties and bring the judiciary to ridicule,” the CJN warned judicial officers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urged the judiciary to remain neutral and impartial in the face of litigation that would trail the 2019 general election.
Malami, whose speech was read at the FHC new legal year event by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata, said the judiciary must always strike the appropriate balance between the personal rights of litigants and the overall good of society”.
He said: “Today, our country faces serious political and constitutional challenges from different sectors, particularly due to the on-set of political activities towards the 2019 general elections.
“In view of its unique role as the arbiter of most legal disputes involving the Federal Government and its agencies, there is no doubt that this Court will be increasingly required, in the next few months, to adjudicate on serious matters affecting the legal aspects of national issues.
“I trust that in this endeavour, you shall continue to dispense justice in a fair, impartial and courageous manner, as you have done over the years.
“In light of the crucial constitutional mandate of this Court and I urge the Court to take urgent