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Paris Club refund: FG asks court to stop $418m payments to consultants



From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Federal Government has commenced legal moves to void the 62 promissory notes issued to consultants /contractors engaged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria(ALGON) to recover their shares of the $418m Paris Club refunds.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/896/2023, and pending before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja division of the Federal High court, the Federal Government is seeking among others, an order setting aside all the promissory notes and issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents “from exercising any proprietary rights” over the promissory notes.

The suit equally asked the court to void all the promissory notes already issued.

Other plaintiffs listed in the suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) are the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Budget and National Planning and the Accountant General of the Federation.
While the defendants are 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.

The 62 promissory notes, valued at $418,953,668, were issued to the defendants on September 27, 2021 by the Debt Management Office (DMO) following judgments and orders of mandamus obtained against the Federal Government and the Minister of Finance by the defendants, who were said to have been engaged by the Federal Government and ALGON.

It is the contention of the plaintiffs that the promissory notes issued to the defendants are invalid, having been wrongly issued in violation of relevant laws.
According to the supporting affidavit deposed to a Principal State Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Oyinlade Koleosho, the promissory notes were wrongly and invalidly issued against the assets of the federation.

He specifically averred that sections 314 and 317 of the Constitution have separated the assets of a state or local government from the assets of the federation or the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The affidavit stated that 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.

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It is also the claim of the plaintiffs that since the defendants were not engaged by the federal government, 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.

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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