An Abuja division of the federal high court has on Monday adjourned till December 21st to hear pending applications in a suit by the 36 state governors against the federal government over the $418 million Paris club refund.
The 36 state governors had instituted the suit against the federal government, the AGF and others over plans to deduct monies accruing them from the federation account to settle the $418 million judgement debt in relation to Paris Club Refund.
The judge adjourned after the matter after counsel to parties have argued the plaintiff’s (36 state governors) application for interlocutory injunction.
In 2006, The federal government paid $12 billion to get an $18 billion debt write-off by the Paris Club of international creditors.
The FG now sought to deduct the Paris club refund from the accounts of the 36 state governments.
In an ex-parte motion moved by Jibrin Okutekpa (SAN) Counsel to the 36 state governments, the state governments sought an interim injunction, restraining the federal government from deducting monies accruing to them over the $418 million Paris club refund.
The judge had granted the application and restrained the FG from deducting monies accruing to the state governments pending determination of the substantive suit.
At the last adjourned date of December 7, justice Ekwo declined to vacate the order made subject to the motion on notice filed by the 36 states (the plaintiffs).
What happened in court
The matter was earlier adjourned for Monday to take the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction made by the plaintiffs.
Maimuna Lami-shiru, counsel to the President, AGF, ministry of finance and Debt Management Office (DMO), prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s application on the grounds that it lacked merit to be brought forward and that the plaintiffs did not have enough legal backing to pursue the matter.
Counsel to the other defendants also prayed the court to dismiss the application of the plaintiffs.
Ms Lami-Shiru urged the court to discountenance the plaintiff’s application and set aside its earlier order.
She told the court that the 36 states had received an earlier order of the court which directed them to make payment from the State and local government accounts.
Justice Ekwo refused to grant the prayers of the 36 states on the Motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction on the grounds that the defendants had challenged the jurisdiction of the court.
He then ordered that the preliminary objection and the substantive matter would be heard on the next adjourned date of December 21.
“In the absence of jurisdiction, the court will be acting in futility no matter how well a proceeding is conducted. The product of such a proceeding in other words is a nullity.
“It is my opinion, that the jurisdiction of this court having been challenged by the preliminary objections upon the grounds which I have stated in this ruling, it will be improper and indeed, inappropriate to consider the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction or grant the prayers of the plaintiffs/applicants.”
“It is also my opinion that the moment the jurisdiction of this court was disputed by the defendants, the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction became overtaken by event and lost its priority in the proceedings.
“As it is, the prayers on the motion on notice cannot be granted. I, therefore, make an order refusing the prayers.”Justice Ekwo ruled.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics had reported that the Court declined to vacate an order stopping the FG from deducting state govts’ funds over $418 million Debt.
What you should know
An interlocutory injunction is an application that aims to preserve the status quo by preventing one party from committing, repeating or continuing a wrongful act prior to trial.
Defendants included: AGF, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Debt Management Office (DMO), Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), Incorporated Trustees of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON),
On November 5, the court had restrained the Federal Government from deducting the monies from the federation account to settle the judgement debt.