Accepting gratification may lead to economic collapse, CJN tells judges

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walther Onnoghen, has encouraged judges to halt from participating in unfortunate behavior, for example, tolerating satisfaction, which he said could prompt monetary fall. 

Justice Onnoghen talked last Wednesday at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, amid the opening session of the 2017 Sensitisation Seminar for the Federal Capital Territory and state high court judges.

The occasion with the topic, 'Difficulties to store protection law and practice in Nigeria', was sorted out by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation in a joint effort with the NJI.

The CJN said the workshop was a confirmation that regulators in the financial sector recognised “the importance of the role played by the judiciary in ensuring financial system stability in Nigeria.”

He said, “Although judges are subject to the same human frailty as all other members of the society, while at the same time maintaining judicial independence, you must expect your conduct to be the subject of constant public scrutiny.

“Various aspects of misconduct, including accepting gratification, when such delicate matters touching on deposits and investors’ funds are before Your Lordships must be avoided.

“Where judges indulge in such acts, the repercussion would be that of placing the wealth of the nation out of reach from regulation and inviting financial collapse of the entire economy.”

He advised judges to be mindful of the nation’s financial stability while playing their adjudicatory roles.

He said, “Judges must, therefore, learn to look beyond narrow interests of claimants and balance same against public interest in having a stable financial system and protecting the interests of depositors.

“Judges must adjudicate with larger picture in mind. In this regard, adjudicating with larger picture in mind entails recognsing that financial system stability laws and policy have clear objectives for prevention of financial crisis and are targeted primarily at protecting a special class of persons which are depositors.”

He reminded participants at the workshop that the goal of regulators was to maintain public confidence “which underpins financial stability or to restore same where such public confidence has been lost.”

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, said some of the challenges facing the corporation included unclaimed deposits after bank closures and judgments being obtained against the corporation for the liabilities of closed banks, among others.

He attributed the problems to “the gross misconception of the basic principles of deposit system among Nigerians generally”, a major challenge, which he said the corporation had been facing since its establishment in 1988.

He, however, expressed delight that “series of sensitisation seminars organised for judicial officers of state high courts and FCT High Court, Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in the past five years has afforded the corporation the rare privilege of closely interfacing with the judiciary.”

He said he considered the corporation’s collaboration with the NJI in putting the workshop together as “a valuable investment in the development of Nigeria’s financial system.”

He said this was especially so, “in this challenging times for sustainable measures to overcome economic recession and redirect and reposition the country to the path of prosperity.”

On her part, the Administrator of NJI, Justice R.P.I. Bozimo (retd.), said by the coordinated effort between the NDIC and the establishment, “judges are now positioned to deal with complex financial disputes and develop core competences in banking matters, culminating in speedier dispensation of justice.”