S/Court Justices are not repository of knowledge ― CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad said Justices of the Supreme Court are not a repository of knowledge, hence they are fallible and always amenable to correction.

Justice Muhammad, who stated this yesterday when members of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) paid him a courtesy visit noted that;

“With the way we operate, if any of you has any reservations, please, write to us, criticize us within the ambit of your knowledge and experience.

‘’We can’t claim to know it all. We are still learning because learning, as we all know, is a continuum. Our doors are wide open for constructive criticisms. Even our grammar, punctuation have to be corrected to avoid any error in the rulings and judgments we give.”

The CJN told his visitors that Justices of the apex court don’t pick offence when their written drafts of judgments were corrected, especially errors arising from the use of grammar. He asserted that it was a practice in force in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to ensure that all judgments come out in an acceptable manner after all the necessary critics and corrections.

He said: “The rules provide that each Judge should give his own independent judgement but they are equally at liberty to adopt what has been offered. No coercion, no intimidation and no compelling force to make any Judge align with the opinions and views of others. We are very free to maintain our stance and even present a dissenting judgement if we feel opposed to a popular view.’’

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Justice Tanko Muhammad stated that even though he has not had the opportunity of reading the 2019 AMCON Amendment Act, but from the brief presentation made by the visiting team, he was convinced that a good and thorough job was done and however, expressed concern over the poor law enforcement mechanism put in place in the country which has largely slowed down the wheel of justice.

The CJN, however, complained that the 60 days prescribed by the 2019 AMCON Amendment Act for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to hear appeals on the Corporation’s matters was too short and limited for the Justices to do a thorough work, as they always carry out intensive research on every matter before arriving at the right decision.

‘’The six months provided in the Amendment Act for the trial courts is alright but as for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, the 60 days timeline is not suitable. If we were consulted before the amendment was done, we would have suggested something different.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru expressed the appreciation of the Corporation for the willingness of the court and justices to assist them at every given opportunity, pointing out that the various input from previous interactions and the last meeting with the justices of the court were incorporated into the 2019 AMCON Amendment Act.

According to him, some of the key amendments are principally the amendment of section six which among others, permits the corporation to place bank account of debtors or the like under surveillance by ex-parte order of Federal High Court; access to debtors computer systems for the purpose of locating debtors’ funds by ex-parte order of the Federal High Court; permits Corporation to obtain access to debtors’ banking, financial and commercial information  and BVN from banks by ex-parte order of Federal High Court; imposing an obligation on the Federal Government and Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to seek AMCON clearance before contracting with or making payments to recalcitrant debtors on list furnished.

“Similarly, with the amendment of Section 19, there is now provision for prior consent of Attorney General of the Federation to the enforcement/execution of money judgment against AMCON and protection against an interim or interlocutory attachment of AMCON’s funds in any bank.

“The amended section 45, has now allowed a certificate of judgment to constitute registrable interest,” Mr Kuru said.

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