Efforts by the 36 State Governments to prevent the Federal Government from deducting $418 million from its accounts to settle the judgment debts concerning the Paris and London clubs refund have suffered setbacks after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja dismissed their suit challenging the move.
In the suit brought against the federal government, the states are challenging the planned deduction of $418 million from the Federation Account to settle debts owed consultants engaged by the states and local governments in relation to the Paris Club refunds.
During the court proceedings, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit, claiming that the attorneys-general have not shown enough evidence to accord them the right to institute the action against the central government.
Ekwo further held that there was no express evidence to show that the governors of the 36 states consented to the filing of the suit.
According to the judge, the office of the Attorney-General of a state was created under Section 195 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and anyone occupying the seat was appointed by a governor, which makes him an appointee who is under the control of a governor.
He held that the contention of the plaintiffs that it was not a party to the judgment debt did not hold water because the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the Association of Local Governments were parties in the suit.
The court further held that the plaintiffs had acknowledged the existence of judgment debt, insisting that the filing of the suit was a ploy to challenge the judgement debt.
Justice Ekwo noted that the action of the plaintiff amounted to an abuse of court process and subsequently dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.