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Paris Club refund: Court sets aside consent judgment on payment of $47m to firm

  A federal high court in Abuja has set aside a consent judgment in favour of Panic Alert Security Systems Limited against the Nigeria Gover...

 


A federal high court in Abuja has set aside a consent judgment in favour of Panic Alert Security Systems Limited against the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

 

Panic Alert Security Systems Limited is one of the beneficiaries of the controversial payment of $418 million to consultants, a contentious issue between the three tiers of government.

 

Other claims include Ned Munir Nwoko with $68,658,192.83, Ted Isighohi Edwards with $159,000,000, Riok Nig. Limited with $142,028,941.95, Prince Orji Orizu with $1,219,440.45 and Barrister Olaitan Bello with $215,195.36.

 

The payment is said to be for professional services in the Paris Club refund to the state government.


The company had relied on the consent judgment to lay claim to professional fees of $47.821,920.

 

Last year, the court stopped the federal government from deducting $418 million from the bank accounts of the 36 states.

 

The governors had accused Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), of alleged involvement in the controversial payment.


The governors’ forum later instructed its counsel, Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, to challenge the consent judgment the AGF relied on in court.

 

In a ruling delivered on Tuesday, John Tsoho, the judge, held that the said consent judgment, in its entirety, was entered without jurisdiction.

 

The court agreed with counsel to the NGF that the reliefs claimed by Panic Alert Systems Limited in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, were premised on a simple contract which by section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) strips the court ab initio the required jurisdiction to entertain such matters.

 

Accordingly, the court set aside the consent judgment.

 

By the ruling, all approvals by the AGF, the president, the minister of finance, the accountant-general of the federation and the Debt Management Office (DMO) arising from, related to or concerning Panic Alert’s claims have been voided.

 

It also means that all promissory notes, cheques or any financial instrument issued by the federal government in favour of Panic Alert were nullified and cancelled and of no effect whatsoever.

 

The latest judgement followed a motion filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum on June 30, 2021, for the setting aside of the purported consent judgment.

 

The motion, which was filed and argued by counsel to the NGF against Panic Alert Security Systems Limited and George Uboh and others, was rooted on the grounds that the federal high court by virtue of section 251 of the 1999 Constitution ( as amended), lacks jurisdiction to have entertained a matter that was founded on a simple contract.

 

In the suit, Panic Alert Security Systems Limited, purporting to have been contracted by the NGF to review a 16-page judgment in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013, between Linas International Limited & 235 Ors. V. federal government of Nigeria & 3 Ors.

 

The company claimed it was entitled to $47,821,920 being consultancy fees.

 

It, thereafter, filed an action for breach of contract against the NGF at the federal high court, Abuja, on April 8, 2021.

 

But in motion for the setting aside of the consent judgment, the NGF, through its counsel, Ogbole, argued that the consent judgment arising from the suit did not award the sum of ($47,821,920) or any other sum to Panic Alert.

 

Ogbole submitted that the judgment merely stated that the company would be referred to the attorney general of the federation for verification and settlement.

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