Banking and Judiciary stakeholders have in unison insisted that the administration of Justice process must leverage in technology from the negative effects of COVID-19 in the new normal.
Speaking at the 20th edition of the National Seminar on Banking and Allied Matters for Judges, organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) , in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute, NJI, under the auspices of the Bankers Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the bank chiefs that included Godwin Emefiele, Governor Central Bank of Nigeria, Bayo Olugbemi, President/Chairman of Council, CIBN noted that the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and compliance with the social distancing precautions measures have resulted in the adoption of technology to facilitate mass communication and business processes in the country.
In his presentation, the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele who was represented by the Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Aisha Ahmad, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has unraveled itself as a global health and economic crisis of seismic proportions. According to Emefiele ‘Domestic and international travel and global trade value chains have been severely disrupted with significant negative impact on financial markets, financial services industry, oil & gas, health, transport & aviation, education, hospitality & tourism, to mention just a few. Individuals, families, businesses, industries, economies, countries – all have had to adapt to a new normal, even as global coronavirus cases continue to rise above 50 million.’
He stated that ‘the effects of the pandemic, particularly the crash in international oil prices, disruption in trade value chains and muted business activities during the lockdowns have severely impacted economic output and heightened domestic macroeconomic vulnerabilities with GDP growth for Q2 2020 contracting by 6.10%; compared to 1.87% growth in Q1, 2020, a decline of -7.9%.’
Further the apex bank Governor noted that ‘the Nigerian financial services sector continues to be resilient, with positive financial soundness indicators evidenced by strong capital adequacy, liquidity and asset quality metrics. Most importantly, banks and other financial institutions (OFIs) sustained the credit growth momentum, channeling significant amount of lending (over N3.7 trillion) to the real sector– manufacturing, consumer, agriculture, etc. The banking and payments system also retained its operational resilience, maintaining availability of electronic payment and mobile banking channels. For instance, electronic transaction volumes increased by about 67% during the lock down with increased transactions at agent networks, whilst the payment system infrastructure accommodated the surge as more citizens moved to electronic channels.’
To stimulate fast trialand opportunities in the new normal, Mr. Emefiele spelt out the critical steps the judiciary sector should undertake as a matter of urgency:
- The judicial system should key into digital transformation to improve the efficiency of the justice delivery system.
- Electronic trials should be used to complement traditional court hearings to clear backlog and improve the speed of dispensation of justice.
- The judicial system must keep abreast of the transformations to be in a pole position to adjudicate cases presented by the financial sector.
- The sector should ramp up investments in critical infrastructure (hardware and software) needed to function in the new normal.
- Above all, continuous learning and capacity development in ICT skills is critical for the judiciary to maintain its support for the financial services industry in its intermediation role.
In his address, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, President/Chairman of Council, CIBN who noted that the banking sector has not been left out of this covid 19 disruption and the banking industry has embraced the innovations accompanying what is now known as the “New Normal”. With the option of working from home now more of a reality than ever, banks and other financial institutions have further leveraged on technological advancements to improve the efficiency of services, operations, compliance and regulations
Mr. Olugbemi told over five hundred participants who connected to the programme through Zoom and YouTube thatthe growing danger arising from the use of the judicial system by recalcitrant debtors to avoid contractual obligations freely entered into. He used a scenario where a bank customer after obtaining credit facilities sourced from depositors’ funds rushes to court in order to seek the court’s assistance to avoid his obligation to repay the loan and obtains interim or final restraining orders against the Bank in the confidence that the judicial process which may take up to a decade to be exhausted does not bode well for the financial services industry and businesses in Nigeria generally
He said that ‘’the courts can support economic growth in the country and discourage this unsavoury practice by ensuring that, once it is established that a loan was disbursed to a customer who is seeking protective reliefs, the payment of the money advanced into court should be a minimum pre-requisite to commencing litigation or obtaining such orders against the lender’.
Hon. Dr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR, FNJI, Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Board of Governors, National Judicial Institute, Mr. Horacio Bernardes Neto,President, International Bar Association and Mr. Olumide Akpata, President, Nigerian Bar Association; Justice R.P.I Bozimo, Administrator, National Judicial institute, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Mrs Mujibat Oshodi,Mr. ‘LaoyeJaiyeola, FCIB,Past President, CIBN/Chief Executive Officer, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Professor Akin Oyebode, MON, SAN, Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Lagos; Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, FCIArb, Principal, Kenna Partners & Professor of Business Law, Lagos Business School; Dr. Cosmos Maduka, CO, Founder/CEO, Coscharis Group; Mr. Bello Hassan, Director, Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Nigeria; Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Chief Executive, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission; Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, FCIArb, FloD; Principal Partner, Pinheiro LP/Chairman, Nigeria Wire and Cable Plc; Mr. Kelly Mogbo, Company Secretary & Legal Adviser, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Co and Mr. Olofinsola,Partner, Human Capital Consulting, West Africa Deloitte &Touche; were the other Speakers at the event.