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Corruption in the Judiciary: Group Condemns AMCON’s Retreat For Judges

Press Release

The Federal High Court in Abuja holds a 2-Day retreat for judges, who sit on cases involving the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), from Friday, 23rd  to Saturday, 24th September, 2016. The retreat forms part of the Federal High Court Conference which is currently holding in Abuja.

AMCON is an Agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria established to buy delinquent debt for the Federal Government (FG). Federal Government has spent in excess of 4trillion naira buying these debts, with no significant impact on the economy or the companies bought. It is noteworthy that none of the companies bought by AMCON has managed to recover. Most recently, the domestic air carrier Aero Contractors went into receivership after AMCON had spent 40 billion naira of hard earned national wealth in seeking to revive the company. Experts agree that this failure was largely due to the gross incompetence of AMCON.

The curious issue is that AMCON’s cases are adjudicated upon in the first instance by the Federal High Court. It will be recalled that the Federal High Court in a manner inconsistent with proper process created the AMCON rules (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria [Amendment] Act, 2015). These rules are designed to speedily try AMCON cases in the Federal High Court. Unfortunately, it is clear that the selective treatment of AMCON cases has been a source of embarrassment to the legal system.

The entire legal system requires an overhaul, not AMCON cases alone. In addition, and most strange, is that AMCON has been sponsoring retreats for Federal High Court Judges. At these retreats, judges have enjoyed lavish reception and largess, courtesy of AMCON, with stipend paid. One of the judges [name withheld] reports that it is not unusual to receive up to $5000 (five thousand dollars) per judge after such retreat.

AMCON’s lawyers and officials present papers at these retreats, giving persuasive arguments to advance their own positions on matters that will ultimately come before the judges attending the retreat. This is a complete scandal and capable of bringing the judiciary into disrepute while undermining the fabric of society. It is also a betrayal of the public trust in the third arm of government.

We should mention that the practice was firmly stopped under the principled leadership of Justice Aloma Mukhtar. Sadly, this questionable practice has resumed.

There is an AMCON Session with Federal High Court jugdes that will hold on 23rd and 24th September, 2016, as part of the larger conference. It is important that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is Chairman of the National Judicial Council responsible for the discipline of judges and the National Judicial Council for the training of judges, should be compelled to carry out the statutory function by putting an end to this scam.

Judicial Transparency

22nd September, 2016

 

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