June 14, 2024

Judgment on Electoral Act: NBA Cautions Lawyers over Comments

President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata (centre) and other key players at a press briefing heralding the Legal Education Summit in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has cautioned Nigerians, particularly lawyers, to be weary of making unguarded comments over judgments of courts, as it promised to react in due course to the judgment of the  Federal High Court, Umuahia, which nullified Section 84(12) of the recently passed Electoral Act 2022 and ordered the Attorney-General of the 
Federation to delete the said Section with immediate effect.

NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, in a statement on Tuesday, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the judgment of  the Umuahia division of the Federal High Court.

“Justice Evelyn Anyadike delivered it on March 18,  which nullified Section 84(12) of the recently passed Electoral Act 2022 and ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation, the sole defendant in the case, to delete the said Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act with immediate effect, an order the Attorney-General has reportedly decided to comply with. 

“The NBA wishes to call on Nigerians and especially legal practitioners, to refrain from employing intemperate language to characterise judgments and/or Judges of our courts. 
“The Rules of Professional Conduct and the ethics that regulate our profession enjoin us to  treat our courts and judges with the utmost respect.

“We must reiterate that there are legal  and constitutional avenues to challenge unfavourable judgments and lawyers and indeed the generality of Nigerians are therefore enjoined to explore these avenues rather than resorting to unwarranted and counterproductive attacks on judges and the judiciary. 

“In this regard, I have already spoken to one such senior lawyer who, in the wake of the judgment, issued and published certain deprecatory statements that cast aspersions on the person of Justice Anyadike and he has since retracted the said statements.

“Nonetheless, the NBA must emphatically state that all courts in Nigeria must act in accordance with the dictates of the law and having regard to justice in order to forestall a situation of break down of law and order which is certain to occur when the generality of Nigeria ultimately lose confidence in the court system.

“The NBA has noted some of the complaints about the judgment and its consequences.

“These include not just the substance, which critics accuse of conflating that cadre of government officials referred to as political appointees — and the subject of the vexed Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act — with public officers within the meaning of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), but also the somewhat usual circumstances surrounding the case especially the blistering speed with which the case, filed  on March 8, was heard and determined on March 18.

“While it is a truism that justice delayed is justice denied, and that we have long complained about the delays that ordinary litigants face in the determination of their rights and obligations before our courts, it is also correct that justice rushed is also justice crushed, especially in cases of public interest such as the case at issue

-Vanguard (excluding photo)

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