Court sets aside consent judgment on $47m Paris Club refund payment
A Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside a consent judgment entered in favour of a company, Panic Alert Security Systems Ltd, against trustees of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) for payment to some individuals and organisations for roles played in the Paris Club refund received by the Federal Government.
Panic Alert Security Systems Limited (PASSL) had relied on the judgment to lay claim to professional fees of $47,821,920.
Before the ruling delivered by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had equally relied on the judgment and had since recommended that the money be paid to the company.
However, dissatisfied with the recommendation of the AGF on the basis of the consent judgment, the 36 state governors, through the NGF, instructed their counsel, Mr. Paul Harris Ogbole, to challenge the said consent ruling upon which the AGF relied.
In the judgment delivered, yesterday, Tsoho held that the said consent judgment, in its entirety, was entered without jurisdiction.
The court agreed with Ogbole, that the reliefs claimed by PASSL against the NGF in the suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018) were premised on a simple contract, which, by Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), strips the court ab initio of the required jurisdiction to entertain such matters.
Accordingly, the court set aside the consent judgment. By the ruling, all approvals by the AGF, the President, Minister of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation, Debt-Management Office arising from, related to or concerning PASSL’s claims have been voided.
In addition, all promissory notes, cheques or any financial instrument issued by the Federal Government in favour of PASSL are nullified and of no effect whatsoever.
The decision followed a motion filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the NGF on June 30, 2021, for setting aside of the purported consent judgment.