Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Lately, Nigerian courts seem to be issuing a lot of ex parte orders. On November 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained an ex parte court order freezing the accounts of 20 individuals and public affairs companies linked to the #EndSARS protests.
The CBN was able to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners after a written address to a Federal High Court in Abuja stating that the funds in their accounts might have been linked to terrorist activities.
Afterwards, Justice Ahmed Mohammed froze the accounts for 180 days subject to renewal, but said anyone who was not satisfied with the ruling was free to challenge it.
Also, on November 9, 2020, one Kenechukwu Okeke filed an ex-parte motion against 50 #EndSARS “riots promoters”, stating that they breached public defence, public safety and public order.
What Is An Ex Parte Order?
Ex parte is a Latin term that is gotten from the phrase from “one side to a dispute”. In law, an ex parte motion means that a party to a case wants a court order carried out without hearing from the other party, so as to preserve the important things in a case.
So, in the CBN’s case, for instance, the motion was sought and the court order were carried out without the presence of the other parties i.e. the 20 accused people whose bank accounts were allegedly used in carrying out terrorist activities.
What Is The Purpose Of An Ex Parte Order?
If Mr A and Mrs B are in dispute over ownership claims on a portion of land and Mr A wants to sell the disputed land to Mr C, who is an innocent third party, Mrs B can seek an order of ex parte order of interim injunction from the court so that Mr A will be unable to sell the land to Mr B.
If the law does not allow Mrs B seek this order, Mr A might sell a land that is still does not belong to him, a situation that will be very hard to reverse.
So, the purpose of an ex parte order is to protect the main issue in a matter like land or money, before both sides begin their case in court.
Are Nigerians Officials Abusing Ex Parte Processes?
Ex parte orders are supposed to be temporary and are not to last more than 14 days.
Section 12 (1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2000 states that “no order made on motion ex parte shall last for more than 14 days…or last for another 14 days after application to vary or discharge it has been argued”.
In other words, ex parte orders are not supposed to last more than 28 days, even if they are extended. This is because, by nature, they are only supposed to be temporary.
Unfortunately, Nigerian courts now generally issue ex parte orders for 90 days and up to 180 days, in the case of an extension.
One can only hope that court processes are not abused in Nigeria.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.
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