President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, and the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Rosaline Bozimo (retd.) have urged the Judiciary to help speed up hearing in cases involving the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and its recalcitrant obligors before their courts.
The duo urged that justice must be dispensed within the ambit of the law.
Also, AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, said the corporation has a number of legal issues in different courts with its obligors.
He explained that non-collection of the debts, which is in the excess of N5 trillion, would have negative effect on national resources.
Kuru expressed appreciation to the Judiciary for sustaining the AMCON Task Force in the four divisions of the Court of Appeal to fast-track the corporation’s appeals.
AMCON, he said, currently 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.
The AMCON chief said this was why Federal Government’s sister agencies should ensure that the debtors, who he said intended to cripple the banking sector before AMCON was set up, are made to repay the debt that is weighing down the economy.
The justices and the AMCON chief spoke at a two-day annual seminar for Justices of the Courts of Appeal in Abuja.
The event was jointly organised by the NJI and Legal Academy with the full complement of AMCON management.
On her expectations of the Judiciary to enable AMCON succeed, Justice Bozimo said: “The role of the Judiciary in the execution of AMCON mandate cannot be over-emphasised.
“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.”
The Appeal Court president noted that it is evident that AMCON is bound to confront challenges and difficulties in its efforts to realise its mandate.
She said it was in order to overcome the challenges that the NJI ensures that the Judiciary, especially the judges, are sensitised and provided with updates that have to do with the AMCON regime at all times.
Justice Bozimo said: “AMCON’s intervention in the economy at the time it was set up by the Federal Government ensured the integrity of banks and saved their employees from sudden and untimely disengagement. In other words, with the establishment of AMCON, Nigerian banks were saved from imminent collapse and their employees secured from retrenchment.”
Justice Dongban-Mensem recalled that the 2007-2009 global financial crisis had severe impact on the economies of many countries, including developing economies like Nigeria.
The jurist said this was the reason AMCON was set up.
She stressed that the corporation, having made sure that the financial system in Nigeria did not collapse, wanted all sister agencies of government to ensure AMCON recovers its outstanding huge debt from its recalcitrant obligors who she said were exploring judicial technicalities to gain more time.
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.
“The Nigerian government responded by establishing AMCON to help in stimulating recovery of the Nigerian banking system through buying non-performing assets of troubled banks.
“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.”
Insisting that the Judiciary must support AMCON to recover the debt, Justice Dongban-Mensem added: “In the wake of a financial crisis, banks found themselves saddled with plethora of defaulting loans. In addition to causing default, the crisis typically led to depreciation in the value of securities created against these defaulting loans thereby leaving banks with an unfortunate inability to recoup their losses.”
In this article: