Nigeria: Paris Club Refund – Govt Blocks $418 Million Payments to Consultants

The federal government has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to void promissory notes issued to consultants with respect to the Paris Club refund.

The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/896/2023, was filed by the federal government, the attorney-general of the federation, the minister of finance, budget and national planning and the accountant-general of the federation.

The defendants include 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 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, had become contentious among the three tiers of government.

Recall 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 the defendants.

The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that the promissory notes were 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 assets of the federation.

“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 read.

The lawyer said sections 314 and 317 of the constitution had separated the assets of a state or local government from those of the federation or the federal government.

The plaintiffs also claimed that since the defendants were not engaged by the federal government, there was no valid consideration for the promissory notes issued to them (defendants).

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