By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday ordered the service of contempt charge on five Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, over an allegation that they acted in breach of the judgement that ordered the withdrawal of $418million from account of the 36 states of the federation, to settle debt in relation to the Paris Club Refund.
Justice Inyang Ekwo directed that the charge should be served on the senior lawyers within seven days.
The order followed an ex-parte application that was brought before the court by two consultants, Dr. George Uboh and Panic Alert Security System (PASS), who were engaged by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), to facilitate the Paris Club Refund.
The affected SANs are; Mr. S.I. Ameh, Jubrin Okutepa, Dr. Garba Tetengi, Ahmed Raji, and Mr. Olumiyiwa Akinboro.
It will be recalled that the court had in a judgement it delivered on March 25, granted the Federal Government the nod to deduct $418million from account of the 36 states to payoff the consultants.
The court dismissed a suit that Attorneys-General of all the states filed to stop the withdrawal.
The AGs had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1313/2021, contended that such withdrawal would cripple the states financially.
They told the court that after the said contract with the consultants were carefully scrutinized, as well as a purported judgement debt the FG relied upon to apply for the withdrawal, it was found that the 36 states were not parties to the court action that resulted to the judgment debt.
However, the court, held that AGs, being appointees of state governors, lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.
It observed that both the NGF and ALGON, are duly registered bodies that could sue or be sued, saying it was both bodies that could file the suit and not the state AGs.
Meanwhile, though AGs of the 36 states had since gone to the Court of Appeal over the matter, they also reapproached the high court for an injunction to halt the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of the appeal.
Justice Ekwo directed the service of the contempt charge on the five SANs within the next seven days, even as he fixed May 26 to hear the case.