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Court stops planned deduction of $418m from states’ account

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
06 November 2021   |   4:15 am
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, restrained the Federal Government from deducting $418million from the bank account of the 36 state governments

(Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, restrained the Federal Government from deducting $418million from the bank account of the 36 state governments

The judge issued the restraining order against the Federal Government following an exparte application argued by counsel to the 36 states, Jibrin Otukepa (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN).

While moving the application, Otukepa who led the legal team of the states told the judge that the states would be completely crippled if the Federal Government should go ahead to deduct the huge amount from the bank accounts of their clients.

The senior lawyers told the Justice Ekwo that the Federal Government predicted the plan to deduct the $418million from the states’ account monthly to service a debt for contracts allegedly executed for the states.

Otukepa said that the 36 states’ attorneys general had scrutinised the purported contract and judgment and found that the states were not parties to court action that resulted to the judgment debt.

He further submitted that the purported contract claimed to have been executed for the states are not known to any of the 36 state governments and is, therefore, a phony contract.

The senior advocate further told the court that the Federal Government was the only party to the court case that brought the judgment, therefore, such judgment was not binding on the state government.

After listening to the arguments of the 36 states, Justice Ekwo ordered the Federal Government not to go ahead to make any deduction from the states’ account in respect of the purported court judgment until all issues relating to it are fully determined.

Defendants in the suit include the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Finance Minister, Accountant General of the Federation and all banks in Nigeria.

The judge fixed the matter for November 30 and ordered the plaintiffs’ counsel to serve all processes on the defendants before the adjourned date.