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FG appeals against judgement on CERPAC fees

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THE Federal Government, through the Ministry of Interior and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), over the weekend, appealed the ruling of Justice Rilwanu Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on the collection and remittance of the Combined Expatriate and Residence Permit Aliens Card (CERPAC) fees delivered in November 20, 2019.

The High Court had, in a suit filed by Mr. Femi Falana, declared as unconstitutional the engagement of a private firm, Continental Transfert Technique Limited, by the ministry to collect the fees on behalf of NIS.

Dissatisfied with the judgement, the ministry, in a motion filed at the Court of Appeal, asked for stay of execution on the judgement pending the determination of the appeal.

The ministry is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain Falana’s originating summons, citing Vaswani Trading Company V. Savalakh & Company (1972) 12 SC77 at 82 and the case of Leaders & Co V. Adetona (2003) 14 NWLR (PT.840) 442, PARAS F-G.

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Also, the appellant stated that the judge erred, arguing that the case was treated as a constitutional matter instead of a simple contract.

“Trial judge erred when he held that the provisions of Section 31 (1) of the Immigration Act, 2015 is inconsistent with the provision of Section 59 (1) (b) of the constitution against the provision its Act which empowers provision of Section 31 (1) of the Immigration Act that empowers NIS where it deems fit to increase the statutory fees, adding that NIS is a creation of the Act of the National Assembly.

“It is well known that the CERPAC PPP contract has gone through the Christopher Kolade Panel of 2000, which cancelled many contracts signed under the last Federal Military Government but approved and recommended the CERPAC agreement. The contract went before Federal Executive Council and got approvals.

“Since its implementation began, the CERPAC contract has survived dozens of Senate and House of Representatives hearings, investigations by EFCC, arbitration in London (2008), High Court of London judgment (2008), United States District Court, Washington DC judgment (2010), United States Court of Appeals Washington DC judgment (2015), all validating the CERPAC agreement,” the ministry argued.

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