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Paris Club refund: Court rejects FG’s request to vacate order on $418m consultants’ fee

Paris Club refund: Court rejects FG’s request to vacate order on $418m consultants’ fee
December 07
19:00 2021

A federal high court in Abuja has declined to vacate its order restraining the federal government from deducting $418 million from the bank accounts of the 36 states of the federation.

The controversial payment of $418 million to consultants over the Paris Club refund had become a contending issue between the three tiers of government.

Consultants had claimed the amount as a percentage for the payment of services rendered to the states and local government councils. But the amount did not go down well with the governors who requested a forensic audit over the claim made by consultants.

At the court session on Tuesday, Inyang Ekwo, the judge, declined to grant the plea by the counsel to the defendants in the suit.

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Ekwo held that since the order was made based on the plaintiffs’ motion on notice filed before the court, all pending applications would be taken on the next adjourned date.

The court, had on November 5, restrained the federal government from deducting $418 million from states’ accounts to pay the disputed debt.

While the 36 states’ attorneys-general are the plaintiffs, 43 defendants joined in the suit, including the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Debt Management Office (DMO), among others.

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Oyin Koleoso, counsel to defendants in the suit — Nigeria’s president, AGF, ministry of finance, and DMO — informed the court that a motion asking the court to vacate the earlier order made had been filed.

Wole Olanipekun, who appeared for Ted Iseghohi-Edwards, a defendant, also urged the court to set aside the order.

He argued that he made the plea based on the supreme court and appeal court decisions under which the judge took the application.

Olusola Oke, a lawyer to Riok Nigeria Ltd and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, defendants in the suit, also supported Olanipekun’s submission.

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Oke, who told the court that his clients were affected by the order, urged the court to take their application seeking vacation.

Orji Orizu, who appeared for himself in the suit as the 18th defendant, backed Oke’s statement.

Idumodin Ogumu, who represented Panic Alert Security Services Systems Ltd and George Uboh, defendants in the suit, said he aligned himself with submissions of others.

He argued that based on the rule of the court, the order granted by the court was deemed to have elapsed and no longer had effect.

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However, Jibrin Okutepa, who led the legal team of the states, disagreed with the submissions.

The lawyer argued that it was an order of interim injunction restraining the federal government, acting through its agencies also joined in the suit, from deducting the plaintiffs’ monies pending the determination of the motion on notice.

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He said the order was also made in compliance with the rule of the court.

After taking all the arguments, Ekwo noted that the restraining order was made subject to the motion on notice filed by the plaintiffs.

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He further adjourned the matter until December 13.

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