Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has declared that nobody can intimidate the justices of the Supreme Court, as they are only answerable to God and their conscience while writing their judgements.
Muhammad, who insisted that justices of the court are independent-minded, disclosed that cases are usually subjected to intense debates and arguments by the justices involved before arriving at a decision.
Muhammad stated this while addressing the management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) who paid him a courtesy visit yesterday.
A statement by the Director, Press and Information of the Supreme Court, DR. Akande Festus, quoted the CJN as follows: “We take our time in taking notes and writing judgments to avoid making mistakes. We subject every case before us to intense debates and arguments during our conferences in order to be as dispassionate and objective as possible.
“Let me state clearly that we are not answerable to anybody and can never be intimidated by anybody whatsoever in taking our decisions. But for certain, we are only answerable to God Almighty because he is the owner of our lives. No human being, living or dead, can influence the reasoning or judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“We are very independent in Supreme Court because of the enormity of the trust and responsibility reposed in us by the Almighty God, the constitution and our dear nation.”
He further informed his visitors that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has so far remained the busiest and most hardworking Supreme Court in the world, in view of the number of appeals received and heard on weekly basis as well as the number of judgments delivered within short durations.
He said: “I beat my chest to say that there is no Supreme Court in the world that works the way the Supreme Court of Nigeria does.
“Except when we go on our annual vacation between late July and early September of every year, we keep hearing appeals. It is on record that there is no day of the week, between Monday and Friday that we don’t sit.
“We deliver judgments on Fridays. Sometimes, we give as much as 35 judgments on some Fridays. We oftentimes overstretch ourselves, as we work assiduously day in, day out.
“If you see the number of appeals that come to this court on a regular basis, it will shock you. Basically, as it is today, there is nothing we can do about it for now, except there is a constitutional amendment. Ideally, it is not every case that is supposed to reach Supreme Court. Some ought to be terminating at the Court of Appeal.’’
Muhammad, however, assured the AMCON Management that the court, in spite of the rapid inflow of appeals, will always endeavour to bend over backwards, to give all cases involving both private individuals and other critical sectors of the Nigerian state expeditious hearing and attention with a view to oiling the wheel of the nation’s economic development.
Earlier in his address, the AMCON Chairman, Dr. Muiz Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had intimated the acting CJN and other justices of the Supreme Court present that the AMCON was created in 2010 by an Act of Parliament to assist in the financial system stability as a result of economic downturn of 2006-2008.
According to Banire, the corporation consequently acquired over 120,000 loans from 23 banks totalling N3.8trn.
The AMCON chairman further stated that additional N2.2trn was paid as financial accommodation for the then ailing banks.
The total current exposure as at April 30th, 2019, according to him, is N4.19 trillion, with an excess of 7,000 outstanding obligors.
Unfortunately, as disclosed by AMCON chairman, top 350 obligors account for 82% of the outstanding loans of N4.19 trillion, while just the top 100 made up 67%.