Kayode Lawal, Abuja.
The authority of the Federal High Court of Nigeria has clarified that the yearly training of Judges in London was neither at the instance of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, nor funded by the organization.
Chief Registrar of the Court, Sulaiman Amida Hassan made the clarification on Sunday in Abuja following a report in a section of the media, alleging sponsorship of the foreign training by AMCON.
The Court described the media report as an attempt to malign it and the Judges and explained that the training of its Judges was bankrolled by the National Judicial Council, NJC, as part of the statutory functions.
A statement by the Chief Registrar read in part: “An online report by Sahara Reporters, dated 4th August, 2023 concerning the Federal High Court has caught the attention of the Chief Registrar and by extension, the Honourable Chief Judge and Judges of the court.
“The report is titled “Controversy Surrounds Flying of Judges to London for training by Nigeria’s Asset Recovery Agency, AMCON.
“It desperately sought to misinform undiscerning members of the public that the London trip is a calculated effort by AMCON and NFIU to financially induce the Judges in the discharge of their duties.
“The malicious portrayal of AMCON as funding the Judges’ trip to London for training at a huge expense was nothing short of crass misinformation.
“The report is entirely false and a figment of the imagination of the reporter. It is designed to malign the image of the Federal High Court.
“It should be noted that the said training was solely organised and paid for by the Federal High Court of Nigeria, funded by the Federal Government through the National Judicial Council.
“The relevant Budgetary Sub-Heads utilized are as follows: *0103 International Travels and Training * 0104 International Travels: Others (Medical) and *0502 International Training (Course Fee).
“While acknowledging the presence of the Federal High Court Judges for training in London, it is pertinent to state that both the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU) are vital statutory stakeholders with regard to the jurisdiction of the Court.
“Their involvement in the training is purely participatory, as experts in their specialised fields.
“Having regard to the global feature in the Court’s jurisdiction, It has been the tradition to organize foreign trainings for its Judges on a yearly basis.
“This is one of such trainings which are deliberately scheduled during the period of the long vacation in order to minimize disruption of Court sittings.
“These workshops are considered as integral components of judicial duties. The Court is committed to empowering its Judges with the relevant tools to develop their judicial competence.
“The objective is to keep them abreast of international best practices obtainable, hence the need to hold the training outside the shores of Nigeria.
“Had Sahara Reporters made the slightest effort to verify such information, they would have known better than to go public with such misdirection. The Court operates an open-door policy and information can easily be verified through the appropriate channels.
“The Federal High Court considers the reportage as misguided and mischievous. It is apparent from the tone of the publication that Sahara Reporters had a pre-determined intention to mislead the public by maligning the Court and inciting disaffection against it.
“This is highly unacceptable. As such, Sahara Reporters is strongly advised to immediately retract the publication and refrain from further publishing such unprofessional and false reports about the activities of the Court and its Honourable Judges”, the statement read.