A Federal High Court last Friday ordered the Akwa Ibom State government to deposit the sum of N20bn in three banks, namely First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank and Zenith Bank, respectively, in respect of a suit filed by Mauritz Walton Nig. Ltd against the government.
Mauritz had sued the Minister of Finance, Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria, and Akwa State government, as the first, second, third and fourth defendants, over the refusal of the government of Akwa Ibom to pay its consultancy fee over the Paris Club Refund. Mauritz challenged the defendants on the ground that their refusal to abide by the court's interlocutory order, freezing Akwa Ibom State Paris Club Refund Account, pending the determination of a suit filed against the state over refusal to pay its consultancy fee on the Paris Club Refund. Mauritz dragged the state before the court seeking the attachment of the said amount as a result of the failure of the state government to pay the applicant’s 30 per cent of the state’s Paris Club refund by the Federal Government being consultancy charge for the services it rendered to the state government in pursuing the refund on behalf of the government. Justice Gabriel Kolawole accordingly gave the order last Friday in the suit marked: NO FHC/ABJ/CS/1154/2017. In the ruling, Justice Kolawole held: "Upon the application of the plaintiff's counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, informing the court of the irregularities on the Defendants Affidavit to show cause as ordered by the court of 30/11/2017; it is hereby ordered as follows: That in the absence of any affidavit to show cause, and the one filed by the first defendant having been held to be irregular field, it is the interest of justice that prayer in the plaintiff motion ex parts dated 31/11/17 be granted as prayed to abide the hearing and determination of the plaintiff motion and notice interlocutory injunction which may be held at future date with fourth defendant notice of preliminary objection dated 12/12/17. That the said prayer granted shall enable the first, second and third defendants to pay the said sum in prayer five into an interest yielding account with any of these banks: Zenith Bank, GTB PLC, and or First Bank PLC. That this should be ruling of this court based on the agenda which I have set for today's proceeding on 30/11/17 when the plaintiff ex parts motion was held." The matter was adjourned till January 30, 2018. Justice Kolawole had frozen seven accounts linked to Governors’ Forum, which, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, were used by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to launder the sum of N10bn said to be derived from the proceeds of the Paris Club refund. Justice Kolawole directed that the freezing order would last for 45 days within which the EFCC must either institute charges in respect of the transactions against the relevant suspects or apply to the court for an extension of the order. The judge also gave seven days to the account owners, if interested in seeking the setting aside of the freezing order, to file an application which must be served on the EFCC.