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Paris Club Refund: Court Enters N13.3bn Judgement Against Katsina Govt

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Katsina State Government to pay a firm, Mauritz Walton Nigerian Limited over N13.3billion for the debt management services it rendered to the state, which aided the refund of the $217,274,991.01 to Katsina by the Federal Government.
In a judgment Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that Mauritz Walton was able to establish, through credible evidence, that it was entitled to its claims as laid out in its suit filed and argued on its behalf by its legal team led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN).
Justice Ekwo said the N13,253,774,451.60 to be paid to Mauritz Walton, formed 20 per cent of the $217,274,991.01 refunded to Katsina State Government.
The judge ordered the state government to, in addition, pay the firm 20 per cent interest on the judgment sum to be calculated from October 1, 2018 until the day the judgment was given, and thereafter, at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until full and final payment.
The judgement was on a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1298/2017 by Mauritz Walton against the Minister of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Accountant General of the Federation, Katsina State Government and its banker, the United Bank for Africa Plc.
Mauritz Walton claimed that it was appointed by Katsina State; by a letter dated August 18, 2014, with reference No: MOF/STAFF/409/1/31 to ascertain and recover the excess deductions by the Federal Government from its account to service its external debt between July, 1995 and March, 2002.
The firm stated that it was agreed between it and the Katsina State Government that it would be paid 20 per-cent of what was due to the state from the excess deduction, which is commonly referred to as the Paris Club refund.
Mauritz Walton’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Maurice Ibe stated, in his witness statement that, through his firm’s efforts, it was ascertained that Katsina State was entitled to $217,274,991.01 (estimated at N66,268,872,258.00 calculated at an exchange rate of $1 to N305) as Paris Club refund.
Ibe added that his firm’s efforts yielded further results when President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016 directed the payment of the first tranche of the Paris Club refund to states, including Katsina.
He stated that, although almost all the amounts due to Katsina State had been paid into the state’s account, marked: 1019265062, in the United Bank for Africa (UBA), the state has refused and failed to pay his firm the 20 per cent fees agreed between parties.
Ibe further stated that despite the pendency of the suit and existing interim orders by the court, restraining further payment to Katsina, the 2nd defendant (Central Bank of Nigeria), on the instruction of the 1st defendant (Finance Minister) paid N35,364,610,435 to the 4th defendant (Kastina State), through the 5th defendant (UBA).
In his judgment, Justice Ekwo, said: “I find, by the evidence in this case, that the plaintiff has established the essential ingredients that must exist for a contractual relationship to be founded, that is; offer, acceptance, consideration, intention to create legal relationship and the capacity of the parties to enter into a contractual relationship by credible evidence which has not been successfully discredited by the defendants especially the 4th defendant.
“I hold therefore, that there was an agreement between the plaintiff and the 4th defendant for the payment of 20% commission charge of the recovered sum to the plaintiff by the 4th defendant.
“It is my finding also, that the defendants are ad idem (are in agreement) that the excess deductions have been fully paid to the 4th defendant and this was done during the subsistence of the debt management consultancy agreement between the 4th defendant and the plaintiff,” he said.
The judge faulted claims by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th defendants that they ought not to be joined in the suit on the grounds that they were not parties to the contract between the plaintiff and the 4th defendant (Katsina State).
“The 1st defendant (Minister of Finance) was duly informed and it actually acknowledged the receipt of notices of the appointment of the plaintiff as a debt management consultant of the 4th defendant.
“Since the 1st defendant has been so notified, it cannot claim not to know about the contract between the 4th defendant and the plaintiff on the debt recovery consultancy.
“The same applies to the 2nd and 3rd defendants (Central Bank of Nigeria and Accountant General of the Federation), who are agencies of the 1st defendants.
“The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th (UBA) ought not to have taken steps that disturbed the res (subject of dispute) in this matter, especially when proceedings were on-going in this case and in the face of the orders of court to that effect.”
Justice Ekwo noted that it was strange that despite the presence of its lawyer throughout the duration of the proceedings, the Accountant General of the Federation did not file a defence in the case.
He held that: “The implication of a defendant failing to file a statement of defence in response to a statement of claim is well known in our jurisprudence. The law is that where there is no statement of defence filed in response to a statement of claim, the averments in the statement of claim are deemed as admitted.”
Justice Ekwo further held that: “Upon the evaluation of the relevant documentary evidence before this court, which evidence I have stated in the preceding pages of this judgement, I therefore have the requisite premise to hold that the case of the plaintiff has succeeded on the preponderance of evidence before this court.”
The judge proceeded to declare that the plaintiff was entitled to the 20 per cent of the $217,274,991.01 refunded to Katsina State Government by the Federal Government during the pendency of the contract between the 4th defendant and the plaintiff.
He ordered that the 4th defendant pays forthwith to the plaintiff the sum of N13,253,774,451:60 being its (the plaintiff’s) due remuneration for the consultancy services rendered by the plaintiff to the 4th defendant, leading to the recovery and release of 4th defendant’s said external debt excess debit refunds.
“The 4th defendant is hereby ordered to pay interest on the said sum of N13,253,774,451:60 at the rate of 20 per cent per annum from October 1, 2018 until judgment, and thereafter, at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until full and final payment,” the judge said.

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UBEC, RSUBEB Begin Digital School Construction In Rivers

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As part of government’s efforts to realize its dream of making the nation’s educational system a global digital community, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), have commenced the construction of a modern digital Smart Basic School in the state, with 14-month completion schedule.
The school, which is a pilot modern basic education facility, is designed by UBEC in collaboration with RSUBEB to entrench digitization of ICT-driven basic education system across the 36 states and FCT, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists at a brief handover ceremony of the proposed smart school site to UBEC by RSUBEB at the Community Primary School, Uzuoba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, over the weekend, the National Consultant, UBEC Smart School Project, Prof Masud Abdulkarim, said the school was designed to incorporate digital technology into the basic education system in the country, which he said, has been in practice in advanced countries for years.
Abdulkarim stated that the desire of the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerian children were not left out in the digital space, saying that the school would have great impact on the youth and give them equal opportunity to compete globally in the technology world.
He described the school as the first of its kind in the history of the country, adding that the school would have four categories that would take care of the nursery, handicapped, primary as well as junior secondary students with a maximum of 35 persons per class of two streams.
Abdulkarim noted that with the strategy, no fewer than 700 children would be enrolled into the school.
According to him, the school would afford the children the opportunity to become robotic engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and ICT engineers, and added that as future leaders, they need to be equipped and encouraged.
The UBEC consultant commended the state government for the provision of the school for the construction of the smart school, and described the site as the most suitable across the 23 states so far visited.
“Let me thank the RSUBEB for the site, in fact, it is the best and most suitable site among the 23 states we have so far visited. Because it has an existing school structure with a fence to protect our equipment and infrastructure. Moreso, the project will impact on the schools around because they will benefit from our Wi-Fi”, he stated.
Abdulkarim called on the host community to jealously guard the project as a growing child, till its maturity to adult stage, saying that they were important stakeholders in the project.
Also speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), Ven Fyneface Akah, a commissioner in the board, Chief Faith Amaso, called for synergy between the contractors and host community in other to remove every impediment that may affect the delivery of the project on schedule.
Akah opined that the project, when completed, would improve basic education in the state, and expressed happiness over the commencement of the project in the state.

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Rivers United Beat Young Africans Of Tanzania 1-0

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Rivers United Football Club of Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Football Stadium, trounced the Young Africans Football Club of Tanzania 1-0 in a return leg match of the ongoing Confederation of African Football Club Champions League competition.
The stadium, which was filled to capacity, witnessed a trilling encounter, which saw the crowd craving for more.
It would be recalled that Rivers United had defeated the Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the first leg of the championship at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last Sunday.
Reacting to the feat, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, expressed joy over the victory of the Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt against the Young Africans of Tanzania in the ongoing Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Rivers United FC, took place at the Adokiye Amiesimaka International Stadium in Rivers State, yesterday.
Top government officials in the state, including Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; LG council chairmen and commissioners, amongst other sports enthusiasts, graced the event.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Williams stated that the Rivers United players exhibited the Rivers team spirit, which culminated in their victory.
The political heavyweight in Degema LGA, noted that nothing would be impossible for Rivers people to achieve when they work together in unison and firm determination.
He added that the massive support and huge investment in the sports sector by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, also motivated the Rivers team, who worked hard to secure a back-to-back victory.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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NJC Okays Six Chief Judges, 30 Others For Appointment

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), has recommended the appointment of chief judges and 30 others as judicial officers to beef up judicial functions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At its 95th meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, the council considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee, and recommended the 36 successful candidates to their respective state governors for appointment as heads of courts and other judicial officers in Nigeria.
They are Hon. Justice Richard O. Olorunfemi as chief judge, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha for Edo, Hon. Justice Akintoroye Williams Akin for Ondo, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf for FCT, Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian-Obot for Akwa Ibom, and Hon. Justice J. O. Adeyeye for Ekiti State.
Others are Hon. Kadi Baba Gana Mahdi as Grand Kadi, Yobe; Umaru Ahmad Liman as Grand Kadi, Bauchi; Hon. Justice Osagede Osado Emmanuel as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Nasarawa; Hon. Justice Mashud Akintunde Akinfemi Abass as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Oyo State; and Siyaka Momoh Jimoh Usman as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Kogi State.
Three judges are recommended for High Court of Gombe, and they are Zainab Abdulkadir Rasheed, Abdussalam Muhammad, and Daurabo Suleiman Sikka.
Akwa Ibom has Effiong Asukwo Effiong; Bauchi has Nana Fatima Jibril; while Kaduna High Court has Abdulkarim Mahmud.
The three candidates recommended for Katsina State are Kabir Shuaibu, Ibrahim Ishaku Mashi, and Ibrahim Abubakar Mande, while Prof Alero Akeredolu was recommended for Ondo State.
Four successful candidates for Oyo State are Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye, Folabimpe Beatrice Segun Olakojo, Prof Taiwo Elijah Adewale, and Kareem Adeyimika Adedokun.
Kogi State has three candidates, and they are Abubakar Sule Ibrahim, Abdullah Sulyman, as well as Aminu Ali Eri.
Two Kadis for Sharia Court of Appeal are Adamu Kuna Jibril and Ahmed Baba Bala, while the four for Bauchi are Musa Sani Abubakar, Mahdi Manga, Khamis Al-Hamidallah Muhammad and Sani Musa with Ondo State having one in the person of Orimisan James Okorisa and Oyo Customary Court of Appeal having Ajadi Olubukola Omolayo.
A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, and released in Abuja, yesterday, said that all the recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, and their respective state governors, and confirmation by the respective state Houses of Assembly.

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