COURTROOM NEWS 18/09/2023
Fed Govt to Stop $418m Paris Club Refund Payment
The Federal Government has made moves to block the redemption of about 62 promissory notes issued to consultants/contractors engaged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) to retrieve their shares of the Paris Club refunds.
The Federal Government, while faulting the procedure for the issuance of the promissory notes, has prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to void the notes already issued.
In the suit, now before Justice Inyang Ekwo, the Federal Government and three others, listed as plaintiffs, want the court to, among others, set aside all the promissory notes and issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents “from exercising any proprietary rights” over the promissory notes.
Listed as defendants in the suit are: FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Ned Munir Nwoko, Gregory Nangor Lar, Riok Nigeria Limited, Prince Orji Nwafor Orizu, Olaitan Bello, Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards, and Panic Alert Security System Limited.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are: the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Accountant General of the Federation.
The 62 promissory notes, valued at $418,953,668, were issued to the defendants on September 27, 2021 by the Debt Management Office (DMO) following judgments and orders of mandamus obtained against the Federal Government and the Minister of Finance by the defendants, who were said to have been engaged by the Federal Government and ALGON.
The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that the promissory notes are invalid, having been wrongly issued in violation of relevant laws.
They added that although the promissory notes were executed by the then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Director General of the DMO, the notes were not signed as required.
The plaintiffs argued that “the promissory notes in issue were wrongly and unlawfully changed on the assets and revenues of the federation instead of the assets and revenues of the states and local governments, who incurred the applicable loans/debts”.
A Principal State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Oyinlade Koleosho, stated in a supporting affidavit that the promissory notes were wrongly and invalidly issued against the assets of the federation.
The lawyer averred that sections 314 and 317 of the Constitution have separated the assets of a state or local government from the assets of the federation or the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Koleosho added that the 62 promissory notes issued to the defendants are invalid because they were charged on the assets of the Fed Govt, who is not indebted to any of the defendants (contractors/consultants).
The plaintiffs also claimed that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not engage any of the defendants, saying there is no valid consideration for the promissory notes issued to them (defendants).
According to court documents, FSDH Merchant Bank Limited was issued 10 promissory notes for the total value of $67,925,661.00, at the rate of $6,499,561.00 per note (allegedly for the benefit of Nwoko).
Gregory Nangor Lar, who is described as Nwoko’s agent, was issued two promissory notes “for the account/benefit of the second defendant (Nwoko) for the total value of $732,511.00 at the rate of $366,256.00 per note”.
Riok Nigeria Limited was issued 10 Federal Government of Nigeria promissory notes issued for the total value of $142,028, 941.00, at the rate of $14,202,895.00 per note.
Prince Orji Nwafor Orizu was issued 10 promissory notes for the total value of $1,219,440.00 at the rate of $121,944.00 per promissory note.
Olaitan Bello is said to have been issued eight promissory notes for the total value of $215,195.00 at the rate of $21,524.00 per promissory note.
Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards is said to have got 10 promissory notes for the value of $159,000,000.00, at the rate of $15,900,000.00 per note.
Panic Alert Security System Limited was also issued 10 promissory notes for the value of $47,831,920.00 being the total value of the 10 notes, with a value of $4,783,192.00 per note.