Law News
Report blames AGF, others for $3.2bn judgments against FG

A report submitted to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has blamed the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and other key government agencies for two court judgments which awarded about $3.2bn against the Federal Government in 2013.

The two judgments by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja awarded $3,188,079,505.96 against the Federal Government to be paid to the plaintiffs in the suit – Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, some firms and two lawyers.

The report, which is an outcome of an investigation commissioned by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in 2014, expressed concern about the action and inaction of the offices of the AGF, the Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation, who were defendants in the cases.

It noted that the then Attorney General of the Federation, Adoke; Minister of Finance, and Accountant General of the Federation, allegedly neglected to defend both suits.

The report also referred to Justice Ademola’s comment about the attitude of the then AGF and others in conducting the cases numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/129/2013 and FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013.

Justice Ademola noted, in one of the judgments, that the 3rd and 4th defendants (Minister of Finance and Accountant General) “did not file any process in opposition to the plaintiffs’ case,” while the 1st and 2nd defendants (FGN and AGF) filed a counter-affidavit.

The judge further noted that “apart from dumping the counter-affidavit with a written address on the court, the 1st and 2nd defendants did not participate any further in the court’s proceedings in this matter.”

Other plaintiffs who are all the beneficiaries of the judgments are, Linas International Limited, Phil-Tech Nigeria Limited, Riok Nigeria Limited, XI Nigeria Limited, Snecou Group of Companies Limited, Wells Procurement Services Limited, Systematic Engineering Limited, Prince Orji Nwafor -Orizu and Bello Busayo.

One of the suits, FHC/ABJ/CS/130,2013, was filed in 2013 by ALGON and Linas challenging the alleged Federal Government’s unilateral withdrawal of funds from the Federation Account to fund the London Club debt buyback of 1992 and London Club debt exit payment of 2006.

Defendants in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance and Accountant General of the Federation.

Linas, however, filed a separate suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/129/2013, against the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance and Accountant General of the Federation, ALGON and 180 local governments (who were part of the plaintiffs in the initial case).

After judgments were delivered in the two cases, Justice Ademola had issued four garnishee orders between February and April this year against the Central Bank of Nigeria.

According to the report submitted to the NGF by an Abuja-based security expert and Chief Executive Officer of a private security firm, Panic Alert Security System, George Uboh, who conducted the investigation on behalf of the NGF, the ongoing garnishee proceedings if completed stand to deprive the country huge sums of money.

The report stated that failure of the various government offices and agencies to defend the cases had raised questions about the actual motive behind the suits.

When contacted, Adoke, who was the AGF throughout the period the suits were filed and judgment delivered, said it was mischievous of the investigator to blame the Ministry of Justice without hearing its side of the story.

He said his office was deprived of the relevant documents and facts by the Federal Ministry of Finance to defend the case.

He added that the Finance ministry also declined his request to appeal against the judgments.

He said in a text message response to our correspondent’s inquiry, “It was a claim for the deduction of local funds by the Federal Government during the era of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“Efforts to defend the suits proved abortive as those in the know of what happened could not give documents and facts to defend the matter.

“So, it is put rightly mischievous to try to blame the Ministry of Justice for the judgment.

“When the judgment was given, we requested from the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General and the Ministry of Finance if they were appealing or interested in appealing and they said no.

“It is rather unfortunate that the so-called expert would come to a negative conclusion without the benefit of verifying the position of the Ministry of Justice.

“For further details, you may wish to refer to the Solicitor-General of the Federation who as at now is the officer in charge of the ministry.”

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