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Paris Club refund: FG tells court to void $418m payments to consultants

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The Federal Government has asked a federal High Court sitting in Abuja to void promissory notes issued to consultants with respect to the $418 million Paris Club refund.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/896/2023, has the Federal Government, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Accountant-General of the Federation as plaintiffs, while the 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 are listed as defendants.

The controversial payment of $418 million to consultants (defendants in the suit) who were engaged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) has been an issue of contention between the three tiers of government.

It would be recalled that, on September 27, 2021, the Debt Management Office (DMO) issued 62 promissory notes worth $418,953,668 to the defendants as a result of several judgments and orders of mandamus obtained by them.

The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that the promissory notes are invalid, having been wrongly issued in violation of relevant laws.

 

They argued 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.

In a supporting affidavit, Oyinlade Koleosho, a principal state counsel in the Federal Ministry of justice, said the promissory notes were wrongly and invalidly issued against the federation’s assets.

“The promissory notes in issue were wrongly and unlawfully charged 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,” the affidavit reads.

According to the Counsel, Sections 314 and 317 of the constitution have separated the assets of a state or local government from those of the federation or the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The plaintiffs also claimed that since the Federal Government did not engage the defendants, 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 a 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 promissory notes valued at $142,028, 941.00, at the rate of $14,202,895.00 per note.

Orji Nwafor Orizu was issued 10 promissory notes valued at $1,219,440.00 at the rate of $121,944.00 per note, while Olaitan Bello was said to have been issued eight promissory notes valued at $215,195.00 at the rate of $21,524.00 per note.

The documents said Ted Iseghohi Edwards got 10 promissory notes for the value of $159,000,000.00, at the rate of $15,900,000.00.

Panic Alert Security System Limited was also issued 10 promissory notes for the value of $47,831,920.00, at $4,783,192.00 per note.

 

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