By Ndubuisi Francis
The federal government on Thursday tasked the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) to avoid previous pitfalls which had tended to blur its modest achievements.
Such pitfalls include infighting among tribunal members, lack of industrial harmony and maladministration, among others.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, who gave the admonition at the swearing-in of Mr. Amos Isaac Azi, and Nosa Smart Osemwengie in Abuja, as Chairman and member of the Tribunal respectively, said such negative developments had been the bane of the tribunal and a source of embarrassment, not only to her ministry but the federal government.
While Azi was appointed for the first five-year term, Osemwengie was re-appointed for a second and final term of four years.
In her address at the event, Ahmed said: “With your appointment, the tribunal now has a full complement of 10 members in line with the enabling law, the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007.
“It is, therefore, my hope that all the members will justify the confidence reposed in them by President Muhammadu Buhari by diligently working together to discharge the responsibilities of the tribunal.”
Congratulating both of them for being found worthy by the president to be appointed to the highly exalted positions, she noted: “Your appointments have come at a time when all hands are needed to build our economy. As you all may be aware, the IST was first inaugurated in December 2002. It is a specialised fast-track court, established for the settlement of disputes in the capital market.”
According to Ahmed, the necessity of the tribunal became apparent because of the time-sensitive nature of capital market transactions, which the regular courts could not cope with.
She observed that the tribunal is fashioned after world class tribunals like the Financial Services and Market Tribunal (FSMT) of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Market Misconduct Tribunal of Hong Kong, adding that the core mandate of the tribunal is to conduct its proceedings speedily and to dispose of any matter brought before it within three months from the commencement of substantive hearing.
The minister recalled that since its establishment, the tribunal had made some strides, particularly in its adjudicatory role which has gone a long way to sanitise the capital market and build investors’ confidence.
Ahmed stressed that within the short time of its existence, in view of the dynamism in law, the tribunal had reviewed its Procedure Rules with the publication of the IST (Procedure) Rules 2014, adding that worthy of note is that the tribunal had partnered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to review the enabling law with the enactment of the ISA, 2007.
Ahmed noted that the tribunal has to its credit the publication of its Law Reports –The Nigerian Investments and Securities Law Report (NISLR).
The publication, in her view, has, in no small measure, enhanced capital market jurisprudence.
Recalling the challenges that affected the tribunal in the past, the minister said: “Notwithstanding these commendable achievements, the tribunal has in the last five years suffered many setbacks due largely to poor administration. These setbacks have blurred, if not completely wiped out, whatever modest achievements the Tribunal might have recorded in its adjudicatory role.
“We may recall that in November 2015, the Tribunal was dissolved and the chairman and its members relieved of their jobs. A new panel of the tribunal, which includes many of the members here seated, was inaugurated in 2017.
“Again, barely two years into your tenure, the chairman of the tribunal was removed. The problems with the tribunal had been infighting amongst members, lack of industrial harmony and a series of complaints bordering on mal-administration. These have been the bane of the tribunal and source of embarrassment, not only to the ministry but the federal government.”
In view of the challenges, Ahmed, who highlighted the chairman’s responsibilities, stated: “Let me stress here that the chairman’s responsibility is to provide good leadership that would galvanise the human and material resources at the tribunal’s disposal on the path of stability towards achieving its mandate in a consistent manner.
“I call on all members of the IST to cooperate with the new chairman, so that the vision of the tribunal which is to be a world class capital market tribunal that is fair and transparent, dispensing justice without fear or favour could be attained.”