Attorneys-general of Nigeria’s 36 states have warned the Buhari Government not to tamper with funds accruing to their states and the 774 Local Government councils to pay an alleged $418 million London/Paris Club Loan refund judgment debts.
The deduction of our money “shall be at your peril”, the states warned in a letter of 4 April.
The States were responding to the November 11, 2021 letter from the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, giving notice on the commencement of the deduction.
The States in their counter-letter said since they were not parties to any suit on the London/Paris Club refund, they are not liable to any person or entity in any judgment debt being relied on by the Federal Government.
They warned that if the Federal Government proceeds to make any such deduction, it would be acting illegally and in contempt of their appeal challenging the judgment.
Attorneys-Generals of Rivers, Abia, Taraba, Benue, and Zamfara states, also signed for and on behalf of all the state Attorneys-General.
Part of the letter reads: “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 the deduction of the allocations due to them from the Federation Account to liquidate the London/Paris Club Loan refund-related judgment debts is 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 states also said they have filed a Motion on Notice for an Order of Injunction pending appeal.
The letter added 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”.
It said that given the above, “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.