By Peter Uzoho
The President of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem and the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice R.P.I Bosimo, has stressed the need for speedy dispensing of judgement in cases involving the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and its recalcitrant obligors.
The duo however maintained that that justice must be dispensed within the ambit of the law.
The justices said this at the just concluded 2-day Annual Seminar for Justices of the Courts of Appeal, held in Abuja. The event was jointly organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and Legal Academy (LA) with the full complement of AMCON management in attendance.
While welcoming participants to the seminar, Justice Bozimo who threw more light in the expectations of the judiciary, which she argued will enable AMCON is to succeed said, “The role of the judiciary in the execution of AMCON mandate cannot be overemphasised.
“This is understandable considering that the distinguished bench is indispensable to the realisation of the enormous powers conferred on the Corporation by the AMCON Act.
“It is through these interactions that the judiciary will be sensitised on the complex role AMCON plays at ensuring the sustenance of the financial system stability in Nigeria. The level of financial stability currently enjoyed in the country is solely attributable to the role played by AMCON in offloading toxic portfolios from the balance sheets of banks thus enabling the banks to perform their intermediating role in the macro-economy.”
According to her, viewing the peculiarities, uniqueness and the unconventional nature of the AMCON regime, it is evident that AMCON is bound to confront challenges and difficulties in its daily efforts to realise its mandate.
Bozimo added that it was in order to assuage these challenges that the National Judicial Institute ensures that the judiciary especially the Judges are sensitised and provided with updates that have to do with the AMCON regime at all times.
In her address, Justice Dongban-Mensem while welcoming participants to the seminar also recalled that the 2007-2009 global financial crisis had severe impact on the economies of many countries, including developing economies like Nigeria’s, which was why AMCON was set up.
She said that the Corporation having made sure that the financial system in Nigeria did not collapse, now was the time for all sister agencies of government to ensure AMCON recovers its outstanding huge debt from its recalcitrant obligors who incidentally are exploring judicial technicalities to hold on.
She said, “Although Nigerian banks were restructured prior to the financial crisis through consolidation, the restructuring did not shield Nigerian banks from the effects of the crises. In fact, the crisis further exposed other lapses in the system that needed to be addressed in order to prevent total collapse.
“Eight factors were primarily responsible for the crisis in Nigeria. They include macro-economic instability caused by large and sudden capital inflows, major failures in corporate governance in banks, lack of investor and consumer sophistication, inadequate disclosure and transparency about the financial position of banks, critical gaps in regulatory framework and regulations, uneven supervision and enforcement, unstructured governance and management processes at the CBN/and weaknesses in the business environment.”
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, reiterated the fact that the corporation, which presently has pilled-up legal issues in different courts with its obligors said non-collection of the debts, which is in the excess of N5 trillion would have negative effect on the national resources.
Kuru was however appreciative of the Nigerian judiciary for sustaining the AMCON Task Force in the four divisions of the Court of Appeal to ensure a fast track of AMCON appeals. The AMCON CEO said no one can over flog the important role the judiciary plays in National Development meaning that the judiciary remains vital to the success of AMCON.
Presently AMCON owes more than N4 trillion to the central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which could even rise to almost N7 trillion by 2024 at the current rate of inflation, which is why there is a dire need for all sister agencies of the federal government to ensure that the economic saboteurs who intend to cripple the banking sector before AMCON was set up are compelled to repay the humongous debt that is weighing down the Nigerian economy.