Direct Foreign Investment Hindered By Delay In Commercial Justice — Afam Osigwe SAN
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former National General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),Mazi Afam Osigwe in Kaduna over the weekend said, delay in commercial justice is hindering direct foreign investment into the country.
To him, a situation where the laws paved way for political matters to be adjudicated within a time frame while the commercial cases linger before getting desired attention was not in the best interest of the country.
The well-lettered legal luminary, who was the Guest Speaker at NBA, Barnawa, the Model Branch, Kaduna 2022 Annual Bar Dinner and Award Ceremony themed” Transition and Sustainable Democratic System in Nigeria” therefore suggested political solution to the development.
According to him, “no serious-minded person especially a foreigner will want to invest in an economy whose government pays more attention to the resolution of political disputes which explains why many commercial cases in Nigeria today are being taken away out of the country for aberration.
“Foreigners do not have the trust that our judicial system will expeditiously hear their matters and resolve issues that are affecting them. So, that has affected the inflow of direct foreign investments.
“It has also affected the confidence of the people in our courts because they believe that cases that are not political take a longer time and they may never get justice and they end up wasting time and money”, he said.
The way forward according to him is that “we must find a way to ensure that political matters do not always get to court. We must learn to conduct our elections in such a way that those who lose will congratulate the winners so that the court can also give attention to commercial disputes, cases involving the violation of the human right and criminal cases”.
In an interview with newsmen at the sideline of the dinner, Chairman, NBA, Barnawa Branch, VAB Ewuzie highlighted lack of judiciary financial autonomy, insecurity, and harsh economy as some of the challenges facing the legal profession and practitioners in the country.
To him, “the challenge the lawyers are facing in the country are many. But let me start with the interference of judicial financial autonomy by the government of the day and when I say the government of the day, I mean it has always been like that.
“But, when it comes to the appointment of judiciary officers, there is a bit of neutrality and non-interference by the government because of the system put in place where you have the National Judicial Service and National Judicial Council which have been involved in the selection and appointment of judicial officers.
Apart from that, the challenge of insecurity, the bad economy, and the deplorable states where judges are working, their salaries and allowances are nothing to write home about. They need to have something that will serve as an incentive to them due to the nature of their work, but, we don’t have that in this country”, he decried.
On her part, Chairman, Dinner Planning Committee, Barr Toyin Ogbuje, noted the infiltration of the legal profession, kidnapping and general insecurity as additional challenges facing the profession.
“We have a committee set up to look into the infiltration of impersonators and I am confident that the person chairing the committee in my branch will do a good job to weed out fake lawyers among us.
“The issue of insecurity also affects us just as it affects other Nigerians. For example, some time ago, in the course of doing her work, a colleague was kidnapped somewhere here in Kaduna and she stayed in the forest for about a week and has to part with ransom before she regained her freedom.
“We want the Police and other security agents to prioritise the security of lawyers in Kaduna State and Nigeria as a whole”, she appealed.