Osinbajo seeks measures for speedy judicial process
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has called for measures that would help in speeding up the “crawling” judicial process in the country.Yesterday, at the third annual judges workshop, organised by the International Institute for Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy (IIPELP), in collaboration with National Judicial Institute (NJI), Osinbajo described the present slow judicial process in the country as a nightmare for investors.
“We need to evolve measures that will speed up the judicial decisions. We also need these decisions not to be too complicated for investors to easily understand,” he stated.
Represented by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, the acting president further expressed the need to align decisions of various courts with some level of credibility so as to avoid complicated decisions from unnecessary forum shopping.
Noting that both petroleum and the power sectors provide 80 per cent of Nigeria’s revenue and over 80 per cent of foreign direct investment, Osinbajo expressed worries that as critical as the sectors are, if the country is not positioned to supply the necessary power supply essential for driving the economy, the country will not make much progress.
Declaring the workshop open, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, stated that judges must not allow technicalities to stand in the way of justice in order to sustain public confidence in the judiciary.
The CJN however noted that conflicting judgments were a necessary part of the judiciary as they helped to strengthen the system.He urged the judges across the federation to invoke their powers under respective rules of courts to issue practice directions on arbitration clause.Onnoghen emphasised that endless litigation has grossly affected foreign investment in the country.
According to him, “no investor, whether domestic or international, would want his investment tied down in seeming endless litigation, especially where there is an arbitration clause in the contract.”
The CJN consequently requested that no court should entertain an action instituted to enforce a contract, or claim damages arising from a breach thereof, in which the parties have, by consent, included an arbitration clause and without first ensuring that the clause is invoked and enforced.
He urged the court to insist on enforcement of the arbitration clause by declining jurisdiction and award substantial costs against parties engaged in the practice.
Executive Director IIPELP and visiting Professor of Energy Law, Niyi Ayoola-Daniels, stated that the workshop was to intimate judicial officers and judges on the appropriate legal, fiscal and regulatory issues in recent policy decision by the oil and energy stakeholders.
He added that a lot of reforms are currently ongoing in the petroleum, gas and power sectors, including the recently passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) as well as the lingering GenCos payment issue.