The Federal High Court (FHC) has refuted a report that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) funded the training of its judges in London.
The Chief Registrar (CR) of FHC, Sulaiman Hassan, made the clarification on Sunday in a statement in Abuja.
Hassan said that contrary to the media report, the training was funded by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He said that AMCON and NFIU’s involvement in the programme was purely participatory, as experts in their specialised fields.
The CR described the report as untrue.
“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,” he said
According to him, 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 utilised are as follows:
“*0103 International Travels and Training, 0104 International Travels: Others (Medical), 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,” he said
He said having regards to the global feature in the court’s jurisdiction, it had been the tradition to organise 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 minimise 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,” he said.
Hassan said 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 predetermined intention to mislead the public by maligning the court and inciting disaffection against it.
“This is highly unacceptable,” the CR said.
He, therefore, advised the media organisation “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 News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judges are currently on vacation.
The annual vacation, which began on July 24, is expected to end on Sept. 25.
The training opened on July 31.