BELOW IS THE TEXT OF A WORLD PRESS CONFRENCE OF 14th OCTOBER, 2019 ON THE DEFIANCE, BY THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, OF A SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF INTERSTELLA COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED & OBI THOMPSON DELIVERED IN APPEAL NO. SC 500/2014 OF DECEMBER 15, 2017.
“ Gentlemen of the Press,
Almost TWO YEARS after the Delivery of a Judgment by THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA on December 15, 2017 in APPEAL No. SC. 500/2014 in favor of INTERSTELLA COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED AND OBI THOMPSON (the Judgment Creditors), against the Central Bank of Nigeria and it’s Principal, the Federal Government of Nigeria (the Judgment Debtors), the said Judgment Debtors have persisted in their DEFIANCE OF THE SUPREME COURT which ordered the payment of a long-standing Judgment Debt to MessrsInterstella Communications and Obi Thompson in affirmation of earlier Judgments of both the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal in Suit No. FHC/UM/M/85/2011 and Appeal No. CA/OW/199/2012 respectively.
As encapsulated in the Advertorial placed on Pages 10 and 11 of ThisDay Newspaper of October 2, 2019, the Judgment Creditors, having repeatedly appealed in writing to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay the Judgment Debt, are now left with no Choice than to proceed with all Enforcement Options provided in the Law.
However, before activating the Enforcement Steps, the Judgment Creditors have been very agitated by some Questions thrown up by this Inexplicable Defiance of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government of Nigeria, which they now want to share with the Nigerian Public and the World through this World Press Conference.
THE QUESTIONS ARISING:
(1) HAS THE RULE OF LAW BEEN SUSPENDED IN NIGERIA?
At this time when there are concerns in the International Community over the Status of the Rule of Law in Nigeria, this long-running defiance of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the instant case, is certainly counter productive to the efforts being made to assure the world that democratic tenets and procedures still govern and control the way power is exercised in Nigeria. In the instant case, the impression being conveyed, unfortunately, is that the Rule of Law has been suspended in Nigeria, otherwise how else can anyone explain this Brazen Defianceof the Supreme Court, by a democratic Government?
(2) IS THERE A SUPERVENING EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT DIFFERENT FROM THE CONSTITUTIONALLY ELECTED BUHARI ADMINISTRATION (i.e: An UNLAWFUL Government within the elected Government ?)
The Judgment Creditors have it on good authority that after receiving and studying the aforementioned Supreme Court Judgment, the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation of Nigeria (who, as the Chief-Law Officer of the Federation, is the ONLY Statutorily and Constitutionally empowered entity to advise and guide the Federal Government on Legal matters), had written more than once to the Presidency and strongly advised the Federal Government and the Central Bank to comply with the said Judgment of the Supreme Court.
Given the above FACT, one wonders, and should in all fairness ask: “From what source then did any other entity derive the power to act so cavalierly, and with such brazen
impunity, as to ignore the Specific Final Orders of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as well as the Statutorily and Constitutionally Mandated advice of the nation’s Chief Law Officer, without consequences”?
(3) “IS THE BUHARI ADMINISTRATION BEING SABOTAGED WITH A VIEW TO DESTROYING NIGERIA’S STANDING BEFORE THE COMITY OF NATIONS AND PRESENT NIGERIA AS AN ENTITY WHERE THE RULE OF LAW HAS COLLAPSED AND INDIVIDUALS HAVE GONE ROGUE”?
Even with so many challenges confronting this Administration, particularly in the area of non adherence to Rule of Law and National Security, the Judgment Creditors find it inconceivable that a straightforward matter as a Breach of Commercial Contract Agreement, that has gone through the full gamut of Legal Adjudication in Nigeria, all the way to the Apex Court of Nigeria; and in which a Clearly Quantified Monetary Obligation has been established, is allowed to degenerate to this kind of controversy that could aggravate existing concerns in the International Community over the Integrity of our national Institutions and the Operation of the Rule of Law in Nigeria. By the aforesaid Supreme Court Judgment, the Judgment Debt owed the Judgment Creditors stands at US285,124,422.30 (Two Hundred And Eighty-Five Million, One Hundred And Twenty-Four Thousand, Four Hundred And Twenty-Two US Dollars And Thirty Cents) as at 2nd September 2019
Derogating the Judiciary, to the extent that Orders of the nation’s Supreme Court are disrespected by the Federal Government, sends a dangerous message to the outside world to the effect that NOTHING about or from Nigeria, tangible and intangible, ephemeral or eternal (including our governance, national ethics and morality) is at par with those of the rest of the world in comity. The frown and oddity so invited and attracted could push Nigeria right back to the pariah status she was once relegated to (under Abacha), before May 30th 1999. Those whose actions as in the instant case insensitively stir up such miasma once more, compel one to ponder over whether there is a Deliberate Sabotage Plot against the Administration; or could it be merely that indeed some Individuals in the core of the Administration,have Gone Rogue?
(4). IS IT A CASE OF IMPUNITY?
The Judgment Creditors have incontrovertible evidence of the fact that in one of the correspondences (last year) between the Hon Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) and the Presidency, the HAGF specifically stated that the Judgment debt sums affirmed by the Supreme Court should be paid from available funds in some accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria. In display of astonishing IMPUNITY, some entities at the Presidency, over-ruled the Chief Law Officer of the nation (!) and insisted that this particular Judgment debt should wait until it is provided for in the budget. This stance was taken at a time when the Federal Government and the CBN were busy dissipating and disbursing hundreds of millions of US dollars from the Excess Crude Account, the Paris Club Funds, LNG Account etc, on paying other alleged ‘judgment creditors’ while the Supreme Court Judgment in favor ofInterstella
Communications Ltd and Obi Thompson are tossed aside despite the Attorney-General’s Advise and Warnings of the damage such conduct could do to Nigeria’s national interest abroad. The Judgment Creditors have incontrovertible evidence of the above fact. Shockingly, when the same issue of paying the debt came up again recently (in September this year 2019), the same entities at the Presidency directed that the matter be once more re-directed to the Federal Ministry of Finance for a review of the HAGF advice. “Acting with ABSOLUTE IMPUNITY” is a fair label for such conducts. “INHUMANE AND INSENSIVE” would also not be unfair when one takes into consideration that on 9th May, 2014, long before the Supreme Court judgment that is being tossed around, the Court of Appeal sitting at Owerri (Coram: Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, JCA (presiding), Philomena Ekpe, JCA, and Peter Ige, JCA), in unanimously dismissing both the FGN and the …
CBN Appeals, observed thus: “All I perceive in this appeal is that the Appellants want to use a lot of technical cloak and avenues to shield themselves from their financial and legal obligations to the 1st and 2nd Respondents. The Government, which ought to be the armour-bearer of the law, must not be supported to achieve its biased and capricious objective Obviously, the 1st and 2nd Respondents have pathetically suffered colossal losses due to the frustration of the Appellants to defray the judgment debts they have conceded and are responsible for’’ (emphasis supplied).Using ‘unavailability of funds ear-marked in the Budget for paying this particular debt’ is currently one of technical cloak and avenues some individuals at the Presidency employ and hide under to achieve their“biased and capricious objective” of aiding the Judgment debtors to dodge their financial and legal obligations at extreme detriment of Interstella Communications Limited and Obi Thompson.
It is also pertinent to add that Her Lordship, Bata Clara OGUNBIYI JSC (as she then was), in the lead judgment dismissing the frivolous appeal brought by the CBN in collusion with the FGN as cross-appellant, expressed surprise at why the CBN, being only a garnishee, went as far as it did to litigate the matter up to the Supreme Court, in resistance of paying the debt, and thereafter struck out the FGN cross-appeal as worthless and unworthy of the time of the Supreme Court.
This logically raises another question:
(5) IF THE DEBTS ARE STILL NOT PAID FIVE YEARS AFTER THE ABOVE OPINION OF THEIR LORDSHIPS OF THE COURT OF APPEAL OWERRI, THE CREAM AND LUMINARIES OF OUR JUDICIARY, SOME OF WHO (PETER IGE AND UWANI MUSA ABBA-AJI),HAVE NOW DESERVEDLY JOINED THEIR PEERS AT THE SUPREME COURT, COULD THIS BE A CASE OF DISCRIMINATION?
At a time as this when, unfortunately Nigeria is tense with loud acrimonious allegations on a scale that could rock the very foundations of the Country, against this Administration, of indulging in acts of Discrimination against individuals and people from certain sections of the country based on ethnicity and or religion, does the attitude of the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria towards the Judgment Creditors not raise legitimate Suspicion in all fair minded Nigerians as to whether the Judgment Creditors are not victims of such allegations, due cognizance being taken of the religion, region and ethnicity of the Judgment Creditors? What other reason exists than a deliberate negation of the Judgment Creditors’ inalienable Right to enjoy the remedies availed them by the Courts of the land, based on the principle of equal justice, equity and fairness which ALL Nigerians ought to enjoy? May be the Answer should be left to “Blow in the Winds” even as it obviouslyappears consistent with a long standing policy to financially strangulate, emasculate, disenfranchise and or disable some Nigerians.
Whatever the TRUTH is, let it NOW be noted that the Judgment Creditors are exhausted in their struggle to spare Nigeria the scale of embarrassment that could be worse for the country than the P&ID Scandal. As they stated in their letter of 2nd September, 2019 to the CBN Governor which was made public by the above referenced advertorial, they have a
Worldwide Order of our Court to freeze assets of the CBN anywhere up to the value of $1.6 billion and another Order to seize moveable assets of the CBN in Nigeria to cover the debt sums plus interests. But they restrained themselves in national interests and even went back to the Court and withdrew those
Orders when it seemed Reasoning was about to prevail and sobriety would replace power drunkenness. Unfortunately, it is clear that they are wrong; the truth being that the CBN and the Federal Government are deliberately forcing themto take (INEVITABLE) measures onshore and offshore, to compel the Federal Government and its agency, Central Bank of Nigeria, to obey the Orders of their own sovereign Supreme Court!
NOTICE OF CONSEQUENCES THAT HAVE ARISEN
Let it also be known that the unlawful seizure of the judgment debt sums, (which is the operating capital and only means of livelihood of the Judgment Creditors) by the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Central Bank, has resulted in CorporateDeath as well as protracted emotional torture and trauma that are the proximate cause of irreparable health damages suffered by Obi Thompson (and which he continues to suffer); and there MUST be remedies in tort for these deliberate wicked acts of inhumanity by public bodies that have abused their power to wreck havoc and cause extreme harm to the politically powerless. It should be judiciously noted that the quantum of such INESCAPABLE remedy awardable for the consequences of the afore-listed unconscionable behaviors of the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, increases as the duration of the said illicit conducts persist.
It is also trite that the interests already awarded by the Court for each day the debt is unpaid, shall continue to run, as indeed the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria have been fore-warned by the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation. The only reason for calling this World Press conference is to inform Nigerians (specifically) on the cause of actions Interstella Communications Ltd and Obi Thompson SHALL now embark on to ensure that the Rule of Law is not trampled upon in Nigeria with unprecedented level of IMPUNITY; and that NO entity gets away with urinating on the Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and to affirm the age old dictum underlying the administration of Justice worldwide to the effect that where there is an injury or damage, the victim is entitled to remedy (more-so in the instant case where the perpetrators of this shocking level of injustice are individuals who elect to ABUSE THE POWERS OF THEIR OFFICE”.
TONY NNADI ESQ
Coordinating Counsel for Judgment Creditors in the Enforcement of Supreme Court Judgment SC. 500/2014, Delivered December 15, 2017