By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
My Words Of Commendation!
One of the very commendable achievements of the immediate past Chief Judge of FCT- Abuja (who just retired from the judicial service few weeks ago) was the novel inclusion in the new Rules of an injunctive (but un-appealable) provision which is contained in the Forms: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 prescribed by the Rules. From my legal practice experiences (in litigation), I understand the implications of this injunctive provision and its importance. I have also seen on some occasions where the registry of the High Court has always been very strict in compliance with this injunctive provision as some court’s processes filed without including this injunctive provision have been rejected for filing by the registry of the Court while directing counsel concerned to include the injunctive provision and then retender the process for filing. This paper is aimed at commending the efforts and or achievement of the Honourable, the Chief Judge of the High Court of FCT-Abuja, Honourable Justice Ishaq Usman Bello (now retired), for this great achievement that posterity would always remember His Lordship for! I also wish to state some of the importance and or implications of this injunctive provision now provided in the Rules, hence, this topic.
Forms: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Rules have similar provisions which provide as follows ‘TAKE FURTHER NOTICE that parties shall maintain status quo.’. This provision in my humble view is a preservative injunction, preserving the subject matter of litigation! I also recommend that all other courts in Nigeria imbibe this novel legacy! It should be noted that prior to this inclusion of this injunctive provision, parties or litigants especially the Plaintiff/Claimant would have to file an application for interim injunction and interlocutory injunction in order to restrain the Defendant by himself/herself or his/her agents or servants or assignors from either trespassing the subject matter of litigation or tampering with same and to preserve the subject matter of litigation pending the hearing of the interlocutory application or pending the hearing of the substantive suit (in the case of the interlocutory application/injunction). These applications however lasted for some few days and not forever except the perpetual injunction (i.e. usually sought in the substantive suit). Furthermore, the injunctive applications last for years even up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria while the substantive suit remain pending in court, hence, the entire suit lasts for years (even some of the parties or their necessary witnesses might have even died before the substantive suit is proceeded upon after all appeals on the injunctive applications must have been exhausted)! The economic impacts on the parties cannot also be overemphasized.
These negative impacts of these injunctive applications would confirm the statement that ‘justice delayed, is justice denied’! Fortunately and commendably, these negative impacts have now become no more in existence since the inclusion of the mandatory injunctive provision in the new Rules of the High Court of FCT-Abuja! So, there is no need for parties applying for injunctive order(s) of court anymore! In my humble view, this injunctive provision in the Rules of the Court, stands the position of an interlocutory injunction! These positive impacts of the inclusion are really commendable! More so, perhaps, the registry of the court is aware that some lawyers (with due respect to those lawyers) are very cunning, hence, the insistence of the registry on lawyers to include the injunctive provision in their originating processes where necessary! So, the process must first undergo the scrutiny of the registry of the court first before even coming before a Judge to decide! Even where the process escapes the scrutiny of the registry of the Court (one way or the other), any objection to the process is likely to render the said process incompetent having regard to the importance of the said inclusion as the court is likely to lack procedural jurisdiction to hear such matter where the procedures for initiating such jurisdiction has not been complied with! Furthermore, any party served with the originating process but goes ahead to do otherwise than as mandated by the injunctive provision is likely to have committed contempt of court for which he is liable to be charged with accordingly!
Therefore and finally, without any sentiment and or prejudice, I humbly commend this great but likely unnoticed achievement of His Lordship, Honourable Justice Ishaq Usman Bello (now retired) and pray that this His Lordship’s achievement as a legacy is never forgotten in the history of the FCT Court’s system! I also recommend that all other courts in Nigeria imbibe this novel legacy!
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