Court dismisses 36 Govs’ $418m Paris Club Debt Suit Against FG

L-R: Osun State Governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola; Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari; President Muhammadu Buhari; Kebbi State Governor & Chairman Progressive Governors Forum, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi (Ebonyi). Behind L-R: Plateau State Governor, Mr. Solomon Lalong; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Nassarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, during a Sallah Homage visit by the members of the Progressive Governors Forum to the President in Daura, Katsina State, on Thursday, July 22, 2021.

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, dismissed the $418 million Paris Club debt suit filed by the 36 state governments against the Federal Government.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgement, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

“I do not see any merit in this case on the whole and I hereby dismiss it for lack of merit,” Justice Ekwo said.

The judge held that the 36 states’ attorneys-general, who instituted the suit had no locus standi to file the matter.

The court had, on November 5, 2021, restrained the Federal Government from deducting monies accruing to the 36 states from the federation account to settle 418 million dollars judgment debt in relation to Paris Club Refund pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The court gave the order following an ex-parte motion moved by counsel to the plaintiffs, Jibrin Okutekpa, SAN.

While the 36 states Attorney-Generals are the plaintiffs on the suit.

Some of the defendants listed in the suit include the Attorney-General of the Federation, Accountant-General of the Federation and Ministry of Finance.

Others are the Central Bank of Nigeria, Debt Management Office, Federation Account Allocation Committee, Incorporated Trustees of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, among others.

According to the motion dated and filed Oct. 27, 43 defendants are sued in the matter.

Although four prayers were sought, Justice Ekwo granted three in the motion ex-parte.

The reliefs sought by the plaintiffs include an order of interim injunction, restraining the Federal Government from deducting any money accruing or due to all or any of the 36 states of the federation.

The senior lawyer, who informed the court that the Federal Government had not commenced the deduction of the monies, withdrew the fourth prayer, asking for a refund of the monies deducted.
He hinted that the deduction was expected to begin in November 2021.

He said in spite of his clients’ protest against such action, the defendants had vowed to go ahead with the deduction.

He said if allowed, no state would be able to pay workers’ salaries.

Besides, Okutekpa argued that the states were not a party to any contract resulting in such debts.

“That is why we ran to your court,” he said.

(NAN)

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