Law News
NJC seeks to check false petitions against judges

Petitions relating to unethical practices and judicial misconduct written against serving judges must now be accompanied by a sworn affidavit deposing to the truthfulness of their contents before they could be accepted or given attention by the National Judicial Council.

The NJC is the body saddled with the responsibility of appointing and disciplining judicial officers in the country.

Our correspondent learnt from judges who have been briefed on the development that the new directive would be formally declared to the public in August.

With this development, an affidavit filed in support of a petition which the NJC finds out to contain untrue claims against a judge makes the author liable to be prosecuted for perjury and also arms the concerned judicial officer with key evidence to sue for damages.

“It is a good development and it will be declared to the public in August,” one of the sources said.

The new directive, according to sources, also specifies that petitions against judges must now be legibly written in a certain typewritten format.

It also specifies among other conditions, that petitions must now bear clear identities of the authors and the traceable addresses of the petitioners.

A member of the NJC, who pleaded anonymity, said, “With the new directive, petitions without clear identities of the authors and traceable addresses will no longer be accepted or given any attention.

“The NJC has, over the years, received petitions from people whose identities were unclear and addresses could not be traced.

“Sometimes, the NJC would have issued queries to the concerned judges and set up committees to investigate the petitions and when it is time for the petitioners to appear before the committees they would not show up. Sometimes, the petitioners’ addresses could not be traced so they could not be invited to defend the petitions.

“All these cannot happen again under the new directive.”

Acting Director (Information) of the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, could not be reached on the telephone as of the time of filing this report on Thursday. Voice responses indicated that his phone was switched off and the text message sent to his line had yet to be delivered as of 6.14pm on Thursday.

However, two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Joseph Nwobike, in separate telephone interviews with our correspondent on Thursday, described the new directive as “a welcome development.”

But Falana was quick to add that the intention of the directive was not to discourage people from writing petitions against judges but to ensure that only those with genuine grievances petition the NJC over alleged misconduct of judicial officers.

The human rights lawyer said, “It is a welcome development. There are many litigants who write petitions based on facts that cannot be substantiated.

“This directive is to challenge petition writers so that if it is found out that they have lied on oath, the law is there to deal with them.

“It is to ensure that only people with genuine grievances would want to swear to an affidavit to back up their allegations.”

Click here to read from source.