Presidency was yesterday petitioned over the alleged unlawful sack of nine Judges of the Investments and Securities Tribunal, IST, by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
The Judges were said to have been sacked via a letter of November 5, 2015 with reference No IST/OHC/320/001 and signed by the Chairman of the Tribunal, Dr Ngozi Chianakwalam.
In the petition dated November 12 and addressed to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, the nine Judges faulted their removal from office, alleging that the action of the Federal Government breached the Investments and Securities Act 2007 that set up the tribunal as a civil court.
They also claimed that their sack violated Section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution where the tribunal draws its powers.
In the petition signed by eight out of the nine Judges, they claimed that the office of the SGF wrongly, illegally, and unlawfully categorised them as board of the Federal Government owned parastatals and agencies, contrary to the Act that established their tribunal.
The aggrieved Judges explained that the Investments and Securities Tribunal, IST, is a specialised court set up in 2002 to adjudicate on disputes arising from the capital market in Nigeria.
They claimed that they have a 4-year term of office in line with Section 277 of the Tribunal’s Act and that in line with Section 278 of the same Act, a Judge of the tribunal can only be removed if he becomes of unsound mind, bankrupt or makes a compromise in the discharge of his duties.
Petitioners insisted that since none of them was convicted of felony or any offence of dishonesty or guilty of misconduct in relation to their duties, their sack was unjust and unwarranted.
The Judges warned that their sack like board members of parastatal will not only set a dangerous precedent but will wane the confidence of investors in the country’s capital market.
“The tribunal is a civil court for all purposes; its existence is in perpetuity unlike other tribunals that are ad-hoc in nature. Court sittings have since been suspended and cases at judgment stage may have to start afresh whereas this is costly to the Nigerian tax payers and the investing public”, the petitioners said.
The Judges pleaded that their sack be reversed by the Presidency and allow them to return to work in order to continue with hearing of the pending cases at the tribunal.
The Judges who signed the petition are Salihu Usman, Yusuf Modibbo, Thelma Chineze Osammor, Sanda Audu Yelwa, Usman Sabo Baburru, Usman Balarabe, Nosa Osemwengie and Margaret Olofu.
Part of the petition copied the SGF, AGF and Finance Minister read: “We are Judges of the Investments Securities Tribunal (IST). On 6 November, 2015 we were served with a letter dated 5 November, 2015 Ref. No IST/OHC/320/001 signed by the Chairman of the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST), Dr. Ngozi Chianakwalam.
“The letter referred us to Federal Government Circular Ref No. SGF. 19/S.81/XIX/968 on the dissolution of Boards of Federal Government parastatal, agencies, institutions and government owned companies and accompanying letter from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) dated 16thOctober, 2015 to the effect that the dissolution did not exempt the IST.
“We were therefore advised to ensure compliance with the directive by staying away from court sitting and work.
“It is pertinent to note that the operative word in the SGF’s circular referred to earlier hinge the dissolution of our tribunal on the ground that it is a Board. However, nowhere in the Act is the Tribunal referred to as a Board.
“Nine out of the ten members of the Tribunal were affected by the directive only the Chairman of the Tribunal has remained in office.”
We therefore urge the Presidency to reverse our sack and allow us to go back to our office in-line with the Act that established our tribunal.


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