Court sets aside $47m Paris Club payment judgment

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside a consent judgment entered in favour of a company, Panic Alert Security Systems Limited, against the trustees of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum for the payment to some individuals and organisations for the roles they played in the Paris Club refund received by the Federal Government.

The firm had relied on the consent judgment to lay claim to professional fees of $47, 821, 920.

Before the judgment delivered by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had also relied on the judgment and had since recommended that the money be paid to the company.

However, dissatisfied with the recommendation of the AGF based on the consent judgment, the 36 state governors, through the NGF, instructed their counsel, Paul Ogbole (SAN), to challenge the consent judgment.

Delivering his ruling, Justice John Tsoho held that the said consent judgment was entered without jurisdiction.

Although the ruling was delivered on Tuesday, a copy of it the ruling was obtained by journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.

The court agreed with counsel for the state governors that the reliefs claimed by the firm against NGF 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, Minister of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation, and Debt Management Office arising from, related to or concerning the firm’s claims have been voided.

In addition, all promissory notes, cheques or any financial instrument issued by the Federal Government in favour of the firm were nullified.

In the suit, the firm purported 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 & three Ors.

The company had claimed that it was entitled to $47,821,920, being consultancy fees which were never agreed upon or specified in any contract with the NGF.

It thereafter filed an action for breach of contract against the NGF at the Federal High Court, Abuja on April 8, 2021.


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