To ensure speedy resolution of  financial market disputes, the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) on Monday called for expansion of its jurisdictions beyond the capital market.

The Chief Executive Officer of IST, Mr Siaka Idoko-Akoh, made the call at the opening of the tribunal’s 2019/2020 legal year in Lagos.

Idoko-Akoh said that it had become necessary to ensure that the relevance of the body was not limited to the capital market.

He said that expansion of IST jurisdictions would engender speedy resolution of disputes in the financial services sector, away from the usual delays inherent in the regular court system with its attendant consequence for economic growth.

According to him, the tribunal’s panel comprises of persons of proven ability and expertise in corporate and capital market matters and experienced in securities and investments laws, practices, operations and procedures.

“We make bold to say that over the years, the tribunal has continued through its long line of well thought out judgments and rulings, to evolve a new and unique jurisprudence in the Nigeria capital market.

“It has become necessary however, to ensure that the relevance of the IST is not limited to the capital market alone.

“Leveraging on the IST success story, the idea has been mooted in some quarters of the need to enlarge the jurisdiction of the IST to encompass adjudication of disputes arising from dealings or transactions in the financial services sector of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

Idoko-Akoh added that over 70 judgements had been delivered in keenly contested cases across the zones within the statutorily prescribed time of three months from the date of commencement of hearing.

“This is exclusive of cases either struck out, withdrawn or resolved through our court settlement process, while about 24 cases are on-going,” he stated.

Responding, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Capital Market Committee, Mr Anayo Edwin, said that upon the inauguration of the committee by the speaker, the committee would consider the tribunal’s request.

“Arising from the chairman’s address, let me say that upon the inauguration of this committee by the honourable speaker, we shall consider your request for the expansion of the tribunal’s jurisdiction to cover other financial sector related cases and for other purposes”, Edwin said.

He, however, urged the tribunal to achieve sustainable growth of the financial sector through a harmonious and investment friendly capital market.

Edwin noted that this could only be attainable through the glaring manifestation of its core values of fairness, integrity, efficiency, professionalism and speedy dispensation of justice.

Also speaking, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, President of the Court of Appeal, represented by Justice Tom Yakubu, said the importance of IST could not be over-emphasised.

“The importance of the IST cannot be over-emphasied, particularly in having to do with the timely dispensation of justice in the capital market.

“It is said that time is money and if people invest in the capital market and it goes through the old rules in litigation, you can imagine how people who are the operators in the capital market will not be willing to go there.

“And so, we see that the work being done by the IST is of utmost importance to the development and contribution to the Nigerian economy,” Bulkachuwa said.

She said that the Court of Appeal would partner the tribunal to ensure that cases that came to the court were timely dispensed off.

Dr David Ogogo, Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the  Institute of Capital Market Registrars, said that IST was set up to enhance investor-confidence.

Ogogo pledged that the tribunal would remain committed to transparent and fair judgement.

“The reality on ground is that if there are no disputes, there would be no need to establish organisations like the IST and so things cannot always go smoothly.

“If there are disputes and they are to be resolved, then of course courage and patience will be required to handle things in the right way if you are to enhance investors’ confidence or impact positively on it.

“You must continue to render judgement given cognizance to be transparent, accountable, responsible and fairness.

“It is with this that I charge the IST to continue to be transparent and fair so that all judgements given are seen to be fair,’’ Ogogo said. (NAN)