Law News
NJC limits petitions against judges to six-month-old allegations

Those who have petitions to write against serving judges now have a new set of hurdles to clear for their complaints to be given any attention by the National Judicial Council.

The NJC will this week release to the public extracts from the 2014 Revised Judicial Discipline Regulations, part of which makes it mandatory that complaints against serving judicial officers must now be made within six months of the occurrence of the event being complained of.

But it also makes provision for the petitioner to, within 14 days after being notified of the dismissal of his or her petition by the NJC, appeal to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is also the Chairman of the NJC for an extension of time within which such late petition can be filed.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Friday that the new regulation to be released by the NJC now makes it mandatory for such petitions against judges to be accompanied by a verifying affidavit deposed to by the author.

With the verifying affidavit accompanying the petition, a petitioner who makes allegations that turn out to be false against a judge is liable for perjury and also arms the concerned judge to sue for damages.

Our correspondent on Sunday obtained an advertorial prepared by the NJC for publication in some national newspapers to intimate lawyers and the general public on the new procedures of filing a petition against a serving judge.

The new regulation is an extract from 2014 Revised Judicial Discipline Regulations of the National Judicial Council.

It creates the Preliminary Complaint Assessment Committee, also known as ‘Sifting Committee’, which will first determine if a petition has met all the requirements in the new regulation to be given any attention by the NJC.

Section Rule 4 of the new regulation deals with the time within which complaint against a judge can be lodged at the NJC.

Rule 4 of the regulation read, “(1) A complaint must be made within six months of the event or matter complained of; provided that a complaint relating to a continuing state of affairs may be made at any time while that state of affairs continues or within six months from when it ends.

“(2) Subject to regulation (Rule) 5, a complaint made outside the time limits set in paragraph (1) must be dismissed by the Council upon report to the Council by the Secretary to the Council.”

Efforts to contact the Acting Director (Information) of the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, through his phone on Sunday were fruitless as he was said to be outside the country.

But Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, on Sunday hailed the regulation, saying it would help to strike a balance between bringing sanity to the judiciary and bringing judges under unnecessary pressure.

“It will protect the judges against frivolous petition. I think it is a good development because we have to strike a balance between bringing sanity to the judiciary and bringing judges under unnecessary pressure,” Keyamo said.

Also a Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, in separate telephone interviews with our correspondent, had earlier described the new regulation as “a welcome development”.

He said, “It is a welcome development. It will ensure that frivolous petitions against judges based on half- truths or outright falsehood will become a thing of the past.”

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