The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) have both advanced the need for the creation of a specialised court to exclusively deal with commercial and financial cases as opposed to having divisions within the existing court structure.
“It is our belief that giving special attention to financial and commercial disputes, would go a long way to enriching the financial system in Nigeria,” president/chairman of council, CIBN Ken Opara remarked at the 22nd national seminar on banking and allied matters for Judges.
Governor of the central bank Olayemi Cardoso in his keynote address aligned with Opara on the need for a special commercial court for effective and speedy dispute resolution to guarantee investors’ confidence.
Represented by the director of legal at CBN, Kofo Salam Alada, Cardoso said an efficient judicial system attracts foreign direct investment. He said investors are more willing to invest in jurisdictions which have efficient court systems that foster effective and timely adjudication of commercial disputes.
He said the judiciary invariably contributes to the effectiveness of monetary policy, financial system stability, economic growth and development through their interpretation of statutes and sometimes giving effect to the acts of the government and its agencies, where such statutes and acts relate to monetary policy, financial system stability, growth and development.
“Because judicial decisions are capable of significantly impacting the economy, it is necessary that economic reasoning is exhibited in judicial decision-making. Economic reasoning in the context of judicial decision-making entails that judicial verdicts are reflective of economic considerations,” he stated.
Fast-track courts had been established in some state jurisdictions to handle all manner of commercial and business disputes and mortgage and revenue cases with the primary aim of reducing time spent on litigation.
Speaking to the seminar theme: ‘The Financial Service Industry and the Judiciary: Upscaling for a Sound Economic Ecosystem,’ Dr Opara urged the Judges to deliberately address the issues or challenges faced by the financial services industry.
He urged the Magistrate Court to assist in ensuring that such orders as issuance of bankers’ orders by Magistrate Courts are not granted, except by the filing of a proper proceeding in the High Court to obtain the same.
The CIBN president also raised concern about inappropriate deployment of Garnishee by the judiciary without first verifying the indebtedness of the bank to the judgment debtor, which he said continues to impose unreasonable costs on banks.
“I urge my Lordships to look into this long-standing problem to prevent depleting depositors’ funds,” Opara stated.
He urged the judiciary to also collaborate with relevant bodies to put around a structure as well as intentionally build capacity to assist in adjudicating on issues as they concern cybercrime in Nigeria.
Cardoso said a thorough assessment of the economy reveals significant challenges, including high and rising inflation, inadequate foreign exchange supply, depreciation of the exchange rate, limited external reserves, weakened output, and high unemployment. “These challenges have led to increased interest rates, discouraging. investments in productive activities.”