By Joshua Elekwachi, Abuja
The Federal Government has sworn-in Barrister Azi Amos Isaac, appointed for the first term of five years, and Barrister Nosa Smart Osemwengie, who has been re-appointed for the second term of four years, as the chairman and member of the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST) respectively.
In an address by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget And National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on the occasion of the swearing–in in Abuja today, she said: “With your appointment, the tribunal now has a full complement of 10 members in line with the enabling law, the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007. It is, therefore, my hope that all the members will justify the confidence reposed in them by President Muhammadu Buhari by diligently working together to discharge the responsibilities of the tribunal.”
Congratulating both of them for being found worthy by Mr. President to be appointed to the highly exalted positions, she also said, “Your appointments have come at a time when all hands are needed to build our economy. As you all may be aware, the IST was first inaugurated in December, 2002. It is a specialised fast-track court, established for the settlement of disputes in the capital market.”
According to Ahmed, the need for the tribunal became apparent because of the time-sensitive nature of capital market transactions which the regular courts could not cope with.
“The Tribunal is fashioned after world class tribunals like the Financial Services and Market Tribunal (FSMT) of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Market Misconduct Tribunal of Hong Kong. The core mandate of the tribunal is to conduct its proceedings speedily and to dispose of any matter brought before it within three months from the commencement of substantive hearing,” she also said.
Since its establishment, the tribunal, Mrs. Ahmed noted, has made some strides, particularly in its adjudicatory role which has gone a long way to sanitise the capital market and build investors’ confidence. Within its short time of its existence, in view of the dynamism in law, “the tribunal has reviewed its Procedure Rules with the publication of the IST (Procedure) Rules 2014. Also worthy of note is that the tribunal has partnered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to review the enabling law with the enactment of the ISA, 2007.
Besides, the tribunal has to its credit the publication of its Law Reports, ‘The Nigerian Investments and Securities Law Report (NISLR).’ The publication, in her views, has, in no small measure, enhanced capital market jurisprudence.
Recalling the challenges that affected the tribunal in the past, the Honourable Minister said: “Notwithstanding these commendable achievements, the tribunal has in the last five years suffered many setbacks due largely to poor administration. These setbacks have blurred, if not completely wiped out, whatever modest achievements the Tribunal might have recorded in its adjudicatory role. We may recall that in November, 2015, the Tribunal was dissolved and the Chairman and its members relieved of their jobs. A new panel of the tribunal, which includes many of the members here seated, was inaugurated in 2017.
“Again, barely two years into your tenure, the chairman of the tribunal was removed. The problems with the tribunal had been infighting amongst members, lack of industrial harmony and a series of complaints bordering on mal-administration. These have been the bane of the tribunal and source of embarrassment, not only to the ministry but the federal government,” she recalled.
In view of the challenges, Mrs. Ahmed, highlighting the chairman’s responsibility, stated: “Let me stress here, that the chairman’s responsibility is to provide good leadership that would galvanise the human and material resources at the tribunal’s disposal on the path of stability towards achieving its mandate in a consistent manner. I call on all members of the IST to cooperate with the new chairman, so that the vision of the tribunal which is ‘to be a world class capital market tribunal that is fair and transparent, dispensing justice without fear or favour,’ could be attained.