Court sets aside firm’s $47 million consent judgement

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Nigerian Governors Forum
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The Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside a consent judgement given in favour of a company, Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS) Limited, for its acclaimed roles in the recovery of the Paris Club refund.

PASS had relied on the consent judgement to lay claim to a professional fee of $47,821,920.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had led the push for the payment of a total $418 million to some contractors and consultants, including PASS, who claimed to have been engaged by the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) to recover the Paris Club refunds.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The NGF, led by Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, has consistently kicked against the payment arguing that it is not justifiable.

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It engaged Paul Harris Ogbole, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to challenge the judgements relied on by Mr Malami to push for the payment to PASS and other creditors.

Ruling on NGF’s application on Tuesday, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, held that the said consent judgement obtained by PASS was given without jurisdiction.

The court agreed with counsel for the 36 state governors under the umbrella of NGF that the prayers put forward by PASS in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018 were premised on a simple contract, which by virtue of section 251 of the Nigerian constitution, of strips the Federal High Court of the required jurisdiction to entertain such matters.

The court went on to set aside the consent judgement in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018 relied on by PASS.

Background

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how some creditors who claimed to be “consultants” and “contractors” engaged by the states and local governments obtained court judgements awarding various sums of money which currently stand at $418 million to them for their acclaimed roles in the Paris Club fund recovery.

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Some of the creditors claimed to have earned their shares of the money through ‘consultancy services’ of helping state and local governments to recover funds over-deducted by the federal government from their allocations between 1995 and 2002 to service the London Club and Paris Club loans.

Those who claimed to be contractors among the creditors said they executed contracts for state and local governments with an agreement to be paid from the proceeds of the Paris Club refund.

Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS) Limited’s claim, NGF’s pushback

PASS claimed to have been contracted by the NGF to review a 16-page judgement in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013, between Linas International Ltd & 235 Ors. V. Federal Government of Nigeria & 3 Ors.

The company had claimed that it was entitled to $47,821,920 as the consultancy fees in relation to the said contract.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how in an exchange with Mr Fayemi, the CEO of Pass, George Uboh, gave some further outlandish details of what he did to earn the money.

He revealed in the exchange that he earned the share of $47,831,92 by helping NGF “to pressure a sitting judge” to reverse a $478 million judgement.

He stated, “I pressured a sitting judge to reverse a $478 million USD judgment awarded to contractors that were not a party to the underlying suit.

“I have sacrificed enough for my country way more than you have. After saving the NGF $478 million USD and being detained, don’t I deserve 10 per cent ($47.8M); or is it a case of the pidgin parlance ‘monkey work, baboon chop’.”

His firm thereafter filed an action for breach of contract against the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Federal High Court, Abuja on 8 April 2021.

But in a motion filed on 30 June 2021 for setting aside the consent judgement, the NGF argued that the consent judgement arising from the suit did not award the sum of ($47,821,920) or any other sum to Panic Alert.

He submitted that on the contrary, the judgement merely stated that Panic Alert would be referred to the Attorney General of the Federation for verification and settlement.

NGF moves against payment

State governors, under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) disputed the creditors’ claims and called for a forensic audit before payment should be done.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how President Muhammadu Buhari had ignored the governors’ protests to approve the issuance of promissory notes to the creditors.

The promissory notes asked to be issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO) are to be funded through deductions from the allocations of the states and local governments for 10 years.

With Tuesday’s court 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 Panic Alert’s claims are now voided.

This would also affect all promissory notes, cheques or any financial instruments issued by the federal government in favour of PAASS.


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