Banks want the special court to handle the backlog of financial crimes

Source: The Guardian, Nigeria.

• We’re ready for recapitalization, says CIBN
• Accuses police, EFCC of illegalities

Nigerian bankers are seeking a special commercial court to deal with backlogs of financial-related cases amidst worries over the rising losses to cybercrimes.

A backlog of financial cases and knowledge gaps in the judiciary are raising concerns as the growing challenges may truncate the projected growth of the industry in Nigeria if urgent actions are not taken, bankers said yesterday in Abuja.

They also expressed readiness to recapitalize in line with the expectations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) amidst the depreciation of the naira.

Speaking at a program organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), the President of CIBN, Dr. Ken Opara, said there was a need for the creation of a specialized court to exclusively deal with commercial and financial cases as opposed to having divisions within the existing court structure.

Opara was concerned about the dynamic nature of the financial sector, especially with rising financial technology, saying there was a need to deliver judgment.

According to him, there is also a need for the sector to work together to boost capacity otherwise the right judgment could remain elusive.

“We need to speed up cases. That is why we are canvassing for a commercial court. We have seen a lot of improvement, especially division and department in taking care of commercial cases. But we think much more needs to be done by setting up a special court for commercial and financial cases that will be able to take care of our financial matters,” he said.

Opara said strong measures are required on cybersecurity as capital is being eroded due to gaps that exist globally.

While the Governor of the CBN, Olayemi Cardoso, had said banks would be required to increase their capital base to service the $1 trillion economy projected by President Bola Tinubu, Opara said banks had already taken steps ahead of the apex.

He said most banks in Nigeria would be able to meet the benchmark, adding that raising the fund would not be an issue for Nigerian banks.

At the event, which focused on ‘The Financial Service Industry and the Judiciary: Upscaling for a Sound Economic Ecosystem,’ Opara said magistrate courts are illegally issuing bankers orders despite a series of judicial precedents.

Opara added that while the responsibility of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to curb crime cannot be over-emphasized, officials from the commission are illegally storming banks and directing the bank to place post no debits on the account of the bank customers contrary to the legal provisions on confidentiality of banks accounts.

“Traditionally, the application for a Garnishee specifies the third-party (garnishee) in the custody of the debtor’s assets to be attached. However, the prevalent practice continues to be for the judgment creditor to proceed against all banks (as garnishees) without first verifying the indebtedness of the bank to the judgment debtor,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja

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