Governors of the 36 states of the federation have reaffirmed their position that the federal government should not go ahead with the planned deduction of $418 million from the Federation Account to settle debts purported owed to consultants engaged by the states and local governments on the London/Paris Club refunds.
Through the body of Attorneys-General of the Federation, the states had in a letter dated April 4, 2022, which was seen by THISDAY yesterday, cautioned that should the federal government proceed to make any such deduction, it would be acting illegally and in contempt of their appeal challenging the judgment.
The April 4 letter was in response to an earlier November 11, 2021 correspondence from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, advertising the commencement of the deduction for the liquidation of the alleged judgment debts.
The states’ response was signed by the body of Attorneys-General of the Federation Interim Chairman, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo of Lagos State and Interim Secretary, Dr. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana of Nasarawa State as well as the Attorneys-Generals of Rivers, Abia, Taraba, Benue, and Zamfara states, for and on behalf of all the state Attorneys-General.
The federal government, they stated, should not tamper with funds accruing to them and the 774 local governments through the Federation Account, in the name of satisfying an alleged $418 million London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts.
The states restated their position that they were not parties to any suit on the London/Paris Club refund, adding therefore that they were not liable to any person or entity in any judgment debt being relied on by the government at the centre.
“Their Excellencies have drawn our attention to your letter referenced above, which the various states of the federation received at about the end of March 2022. “The letter notifies the States of your intention to commence deduction from allocations due to the States from the Federation Account for the liquidation of the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts on behalf of the 36 States of the Federation and the 774 local government councils.
“Please note that the states of the federation were not parties to any contract or suits concerning the London/Paris Club refund, from which the said judgment debts arose.
“Consequently, the 36 States of the federation are not liable to any person or entity in any judgment debt,” the states said in the letter.”
According to the letter, the deduction of the allocations due to the 36 states of the federation from the Federation Account to liquidate the purported London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts was the subject of an appeal filed by the 36 States at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
“The appeal challenges the Federal High Court’s (per Honourable Justice Inyang Ekwo) judgment delivered on 25th March 2022 between A.G Abia State v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria & 42 Ors. and, therefore, the issue is sub judice,” the letter stressed.
It added that the states had also filed a Motion on Notice for an Order of Injunction pending appeal, noting that the body’s legal representatives had published a public caveat in national dailies notifying the public of the pending appeal, which also advised concerned parties “to desist from dealing with the subject matter thereof pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal and the application for Injunction pending appeal.”
Based on the foregoing, they pointed out that the “The law requires you to restrain from taking any step whatsoever that is capable of interfering with the rest of the suit, which is now a subject of an appeal.
“Accordingly, Nigerian case law enjoins you to refrain from effecting any deduction whatsoever from the allocations due to the 36 States from the Federation Account for the liquidation of the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts purportedly on behalf of the 36 States of the Federation and the 774 local government councils, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal by the states of the federation.
” Doing otherwise in the face of the pending Appeal and Motion on Notice for Injunction pending appeal shall be at your peril.”