Court stops FG from deducting $418m Paris Club refund from states

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday stopped the Federal Government from its planned deduction of $418 million Paris Club Refund from the accounts of the state and local governments.

This follows a court case instituted by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum against the Federal Government, in a bid to stop the payment of the controversial sum to consultants.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court gave the restraining order against the Federal Government following an ex parte application argued by the lawyers to the 36 States Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, and Ahmed Raji, SAN.

According to Punch, Okutepa, who led the legal team representing the states, said while moving the application, that the 36 states would be completely crippled if the Federal Government goes ahead to deduct the huge amount from the bank accounts of the states.

He pointed out to the court that the Federal Government had revealed the plan to deduct the sum of $418 million from the state account monthly as part of debts for contracts allegedly executed for the states.

Okutepa, however, said that the 36 states attorneys-general after reading the purported judgment displayed by the Federal Government, found that the states were not parties to the court action which resulted in the judgment debt.

He also submitted that the purported contract claimed to have been executed for the states was not known to any of the 36 state governments and is, therefore, a phoney contract.

In his argument, the lead counsel to the 36 states, also informed the court that the Federal Government was the only party to the court case that brought the judgment and therefore such judgment is not binding on the state government.

Consequently, after listening to the arguments of the 36 States, Justice Ekwo ordered the Federal Government not to go ahead to make any deduction from the accounts of the States in respect of the purported Court judgment until all issues relating to it were fully determined.

The judge thereafter fixed the matter for November 30 and ordered the plaintiffs’ lawyer to serve all processes on the defendants before the adjourned date.

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