Posted by Eric Ikhilae, Abuja | 23 October 2019 | 1,172 times
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has faulted some provisions in the amendment to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Act, particularly the aspect that limits the determination of appeal to 60 days.
Muhammad said although he has not had the time to fully digest the 2019 AMCON Amendment Act, he was not comfortable with the provision that requires the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court must hear and determine cases involving AMCON within 60 days.
The CJN noted that the 60 days prescribed by the amendment Act was too short and limited for the Justices to do a thorough work, as they always carry out intensive research on every matter before arriving at the right decision.
“The six months provided in the Amendment Act for the trial courts is alright but as for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, the 60 days’ timeline is not suitable.
“If we were consulted before the amendment was done, we would have suggested something different,” he said.
Muhammad equally expressed concerns over the poor law enforcement mechanism put in place in the country, which he noted, has largely slowed down the wheel of justice.
“The problem has to do with law enforcement, especially where it touches on financial and property matters.
“The task before you is not a small one. You carry a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders.
“However, with the calibre of people on the board of AMCON, I know it will not be a difficult task to accomplish.’’
Supreme Court’s spokesman, Fesus Akande said, in a statement on Tuesday, that the CJN spoke in Abuja on Tuesday during a courtesy visit to the Supreme Court by members of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Tuesday.
He urged the visitors not to hesitate to criticise the court where they were certain the court was in error, noting that judicial officers were human and therefore, not perfect.
“With the way we operate, if any of you has any reservations, please, write us, criticise us within the ambit of your knowledge and experience.
“We can’t claim to know it all. We are still learning, because learning, as we all know, is a continuum.
“Our doors are wide open for constructive criticisms. Even our grammar, punctuation have to be corrected to avoid any error in the rulings and judgments we give,” he said.
Muhammad added that as Justices, they don’t pick offence when their written drafts of judgments were corrected, especially errors arising from the use of grammar. He said it was a practice in force in Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to ensure that all judgments come out in an acceptable manner after all the necessary critics and corrections.
He noted that what every right-thinking and serious-minded judge needed to do was to cultivate the culture of patience and acceptability so that they don’t erroneously assume to be a repository of knowledge and wisdom.
“The rules provide that each judge should give his own independent judgement but they are equally at liberty to adopt what has been offered.
“No coercion, no intimidation and no compelling force to make any judge align with the opinions and views of others. We are very free to maintain our stance and even present a dissenting judgement if we feel opposed to a popular view,” he said.
AMCON’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Kuru, expressed delight about the court’s positive disposition to his agency’s activities, noting out that the various input from previous interactions and the last meeting with the justices of the court were incorporated into the 2019 AMCON Amendment Act.
Kuru added some of the key amendments to the Act are principally the amendment of section six which among others, permits the corporation to place bank account of debtors or the like under surveillance by ex-parte order of Federal High Court; access to debtors computer systems for the purpose of locating debtors’ funds by ex-parte order of the Federal High Court; permits Corporation to obtain access to debtors’ banking, financial and commercial information and BVN from banks by ex-parte order of Federal High Court; imposing an obligation on the Federal Government and Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to seek AMCON clearance before contracting with or making payments to recalcitrant debtors on list furnished.
Akande quoted Kuru as saying: “Similarly, with the amendment of Section 19, there is now provision for prior consent of Attorney General of the Federation to enforcement/execution of money judgment against AMCON and protection against interim or interlocutory attachment of AMCON’s funds in any bank. The amended section 45, has now allowed certificate of judgment to constitute registrable interest.” (The Nation)
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