The Federal High Court of Nigerian yesterday launched its new practice directions for matters involving the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The AMCON is an agency of the federal government statutorily saddled with the responsibility of recovering funds and non-performing loans. And in a bid to expedite actions on matters involving the agency, the FHC during the Judges Forum held in partnership with AMCON, in Lagos, underscored the importance of the new practice. Addressing the participants at the event which was facilitated by the law firm of Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta said cases involving AMCON ought to be given priority in court as they have to do with the economy.
"We have dedicated some senior judges in Lagos and Abuja to handle AMCON cases. Some cases like that of AMCON, terrorism, money laundering and rape should be given priority. Whenever those cases come they are automatically assigned."
Justice Auta chided judges who normally put AMCON matters on the cause list of the court. AMCON cases are ex-parte and they should not be put on the cause list since only the application of one party is heard. The judge or the court Clerk should just inform the party of the date for the matter to come up.
"In fact all ex-parte cases should not be put on the cause list," Auta said.
While briefing newsmen after the launch, Olisa Agbakoba explained that the set up of the new guidelines for handling AMCON cases was to speed up the process in court.
He said last year AMCON was able to recover more than N1 trillion debt and had been tasked with recovering N2 trillion this year.
He expressed the hope that the newly formulated practice directions by the FHC will help AMCON in its assignment.
The managing director of AMCON, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, who also addressed journalists said that the Judges' Forum organised to brainstorm on AMCON matters was not to make judges become influenced unduly in court by the agency.