The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mohammad Tanko, on Thursday spoke on how the Supreme Court arrives at its judgments.
Receiving the management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) who paid him a courtesy visit in his office, Mr Mohammed said the justices of the apex court are independent-minded and cannot be intimidated by anybody.
He said the judicial officers are only answerable to their conscience and God while writing and delivering judgments in all cases that come before them.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Director, Press and Information, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Akande Festus, at the end of the visit.
Other Justices of the Supreme Court at the event were Olukayode Ariwoola, Kekere-Ekun, Musa Dattijo, Ejembi Eko and Uwani Abba-Aji.
“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 the Supreme Court because of the enormity of the trust and responsibility reposed in us by the Almighty God, the Constitution and our dear nation,” the acting CJN stated.
According to the statement, Mr Mohammed told the AMCON visitors that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has so far remained the busiest and most hardworking Supreme Court in the world.
He said this is in view of the number of appeals received and heard on a weekly basis as well as the number of judgments delivered within a short duration.
“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 over-stretch 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 the Supreme Court. Some ought to be terminating at the Court of Appeal.’’
Mr Muhammad assured the AMCON management that the court, in spite of the rapid inflow of appeals, would always endeavour 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, Muiz Banire, told the acting CJN and other justices of the Supreme Court present that 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.
Mr Banire said the corporation consequently acquired over 120,000 loans from 23 banks totalling N3.8 trillion.
The AMCON chairman further added that an additional N2.2 trillion was paid as financial accommodation for the ailing banks.
The total current exposure as at April 30, according to Mr Banire, is N4.19 trillion, with an excess of 7,000 outstanding obligors.
“Top 350 obligors account for 82 per cent of the outstanding loans of N4.19 trillion, while just the top 100 made up 67 per cent.
“Mr Banire surprisingly revealed that the top 20 accounts with total current exposure of N1.71 trillion, made 41 per cent of the total current exposure of N4.19 trillion.
The major handicap of the corporation, he stated, is the delay tactics often employed by the defaulters to frustrate the cases currently pending in various courts across the country, the statement added.