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Paris Club Refund: Court Of Appeal Orders Stay Of Proceedings On Contempt Motion Against Five Senior Nigerian Lawyers

The affected SANs are Sunday Ameh, Jibrin Okutepa, Garba Tetengi, Ahmed Raji, and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro.

A Court of Appeal, Abuja on Wednesday ordered a stay of proceedings relating to the contempt motion against five Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) involved in the $418 million judgment debt suit.


The affected SANs are Sunday Ameh, Jibrin Okutepa, Garba Tetengi, Ahmed Raji, and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro.


A Federal High Court in Abuja had on April 26 ordered that a contempt charge motion should be served on them through courier services.


Inyang Ekwo, the judge, issued the order following an ex-parte motion by Emeka Okoro, counsel for the applicants, who are the 15th and 16th respondents in the suit.


Panic Alert Security Systems Limited and George Uboh, two out of the consultants engaged in the $418 million debt in relation to the Paris club refund, are 15th and 16th respondents respectively.


Okoro had complained, shortly after the matter was called, that the five senior lawyers allegedly evaded being served with the charge despite all efforts made by the bailiff as required by law.


The applicants had, through their lawyer in the contempt charge, urged the court to commit the five SANs to prison custody for alleged contempt of court in the $418 million judgment debt suit.


They also prayed the court to ensure that the five SANs are reported to the legal practitioners’ privileges committee (LPPC) of the body of benchers.


They described the attitude of the senior lawyers against the March 25 judgment delivered by Ekwo as “infamous conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”


Justice Ekwo had, on March 25, dismissed the suit filed by the 36 states’ attorney-generals (AGs) against the Nigerian government for lacking in merit.


The judge held that the states’ AGs, who were plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1313/2021, lacked the legal right to institute the matter without their governors’ consent.


But in a letter dated April 4, the states, through the AGs, asked the Nigerian government to refrain from deducting from funds accruing to them for the payment of the judgment debt.


Meanwhile, in the contempt charge, the senior advocates were alleged to have placed “caveat emptor” on the judgment of the federal high court.


SaharaReporters had in a series of reports exposed wide-ranging legitimacy issues, including non-execution of agreed contracts and backdoor deals raised against the indebtedness from various quarters.


One of the beneficiaries is Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards, who was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).


Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that Edwards did not represent the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as claimed.


A letter dated August 1, 2018, by former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to the Ministry of Justice/Attorney General's Office, accused him of making an attempt to defraud the Nigerian government.


It said, “The suspects had filed applications in court to be joined as one of the judgement creditors during the garnishee proceedings and the applications were refused by the Federal High Court. The judge in a ruling delivered on the 27th of June 2016 frowned on Dr Ted Edward for brandishing a judgment purportedly delivered by the Federal Capital Territory on 30th October, 2015 and in fact, took a swipe at it.


“By the motion ex parte filed on the 30th of March, 2015, the judgement creditors applied for a Garnishee Order Nisi which was granted on 1st April, 2015 and fixed the return date for 16th April for the Garnishee to show cause why the Order Nisi should not be made absolute.


“The Honorable Judge in his ruling stated unequivocally that 'let me state right away that the substantive matter was commenced by me until I entered judgement on the 3rd of December, 2013. I have searched my records up to the date I entered judgement. I could not find the name of Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards as representing the judgement creditors even for one day nor did I find any process filed by his law firm. How then was that judgement prosecuted?'


“Another point to highlight is the fact that according to the purported letter of engagement being bandied by Dr Ted Edwards, he was engaged on September 15, 2011, long before the matter was filed in court quoting the exact judgment sum.



“What this throws up is the fact that the said letter of engagement was done after 3rd December 2013 and backdated to make it look as if the suspect had been engaged before the case started. There is no evidence to prove that the suspect did any work in relation to the recovery process.


“A careful look at the memorandum of settlement between Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards and Hon. Odunayo Ategbero betrays the conspiracy and an attempt to defraud the Federal Government by the suspects.


“Pending Actions; Invitation and/or Arrest of the suspect, Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards with a view of confronting him with all the issues raised in the evaluation above. Tracing and filing interim forfeiture order on any property or asset acquired with proceeds of fraud by Dr. Ted Iseghahi Edwards.”


SaharaReporters gathered that despite the report, Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami persuaded Buhari to approve $159 million as legal fees to Edward.


They also directed the DMO and the Ministry of Finance to release the promissory notes to Edwards and others so that they could take their shares, a source had said.


Others who stand to benefit if the money is paid include Ned Nwoko, who is laying claim to $142,028,941 via a consent judgment he obtained from the Federal High Court in Abuja in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/148/2017.


Three beneficiaries laying claim to $143,463,577.76 via a judgment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2129/2014 are Riok Nigeria Ltd, Orji Nwafor Orizu, and Olaitan Bello.


From the total money, Riok Nigeria Limited has a share of $142,028,941.95 (about 54 billion), Mr Nwafor is entitled to $1,219,440.45 and Mr Bello has a share of $215,159.36.


A firm, Panic Alert Security System Limited, owned by George Uboh, is also laying claim to $47,831,920 based on another “consent judgment” it obtained in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, which was filed in 2018.