The Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Nura Abba Rimi has called for total reforms in the judicial system in Nigeria, which he said will provide the much-needed reassurance to investors that are ready and willing to come to Nigeria.
The ambassador made the call at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Federal High Court foreign training in Cairo Egypt. The ceremony was also attended by the managements of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) led by Mr Ahmed Lawan Kuru; that of the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) also led by its Vice Chairman/CEO, Mr Babatunde Irukera as well as the Director General-Legal Academy, Dr. Fatihu A. Abba among others.
The ambassador is surprised that agencies of the federal government of Nigeria have court cases that are dragging for years and posited that lack of a functional judicial system in Nigeria is hurting the economy. He said while it is almost impossible to avoid dispute in commercial ventures, an investor is concerned about the mechanism in place for resolving any disputes that may arise in the course of his business. According to him, in as much as the popular phrase “time is money” cannot be over-emphasised, no investor is willing to tie down money, capital, or investment for an unascertainable period of time due to commercial disputes.
He said, “The fear is usually that the investment and/or capital would have lost its value at the time the dispute is eventually resolved. Thus, investors would be averse to investing funds in any country where dispute resolution is not reliable, effective and/or efficient. This is the case of the Nigerian judicial system. But this can be remedied or mitigated by judicial reforms through sustained dynamic training of the judiciary as demonstrated by the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court-Hon. Justice J.T. Tsoho.
“Many investors and investment have been lost over the years as a result of the failure to to pursue efficient and/or effective judicial reforms. Indeed, timely disposal of cases in the OECD countries has sustained investor confidence in the economies of these countries.
Rimi further explained that Court related litigations in Nigeria is majorly characterised by three (sometimes four) stages, commencing from the trial Courts, then the appellate court and then the Supreme Court. The journey to the Supreme Court in a commercial dispute could last for as long as eight to 20 years, which he said is very sad.
Again, he said, “For instance, in Bilante Intl Ltd v. N.D.I.C (2011) LPELR-781 (SC), the suit was commenced in 1992 and it continued till June 2011, when the Supreme Court delivered its judgment. Also, in Edilcon (Nig) Ltd v. UBA PLC (2017) LPELR-42342 (SC), the decision of the trial Court was delivered in December 1997, whilst the decision of the Supreme Court was delivered in May 2017 – about 20 years after. Accordingly, it is recommended that the heads of Courts in Nigeria should consider prescribing measures geared towards decongesting the dockets of the Courts and restoring investor confidence in the Nigerian judicial system.”