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Court adjourns till December 21 to hear pending applications on Paris Club refund

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Governors to meet today over local government financial autonomy

A federal high court in Abuja has on Monday adjourned till December 21 to hear pending applications in a suit by the 36 state governors against the federal government over the $418 million Paris club refund.

Governors of 36 states of the federation had instituted the suit against the federal government, the AGF and others over plans to deduct monies accruing them from the federation account to settle the $418 million judgement debt in relation to Paris Club Refund.

The judge adjourned after the matter after counsel to parties have argued the plaintiff’s application for interlocutory injunction.

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The matter was earlier adjourned for Monday to take the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction made by the plaintiffs.

Maimuna Lami-shiru, counsel to the President, AGF, ministry of finance and Debt Management Office (DMO), prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s application on the grounds that it lacked merit to be brought forward and that the plaintiffs did not have enough legal backing to pursue the matter.

Counsel to the other defendants also prayed the court to dismiss the application of the plaintiffs.

Ms Lami-Shiru urged the court to discountenance the plaintiff’s application and set aside its earlier order.

She told the court that the 36 states had received an earlier order of the court which directed them to make payment from the State and local government accounts.

Justice Ekwo refused to grant the prayers of the 36 states on the Motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction on the grounds that the defendants had challenged the jurisdiction of the court.

He then ordered that the preliminary objection and the substantive matter would be heard on the next adjourned date of December 21.

“In the absence of jurisdiction, the court will be acting in futility no matter how well a proceeding is conducted. The product of such a proceeding in other words is a nullity.

“It is my opinion, that the jurisdiction of this court having been challenged by the preliminary objections upon the grounds which I have stated in this ruling, it will be improper and indeed, inappropriate to consider the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction or grant the prayers of the plaintiffs/applicants.”

“It is also my opinion that the moment the jurisdiction of this court was disputed by the defendants, the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction became overtaken by event and lost its priority in the proceedings.

“As it is, the prayers on the motion on notice cannot be granted. I, therefore, make an order refusing the prayers.”Justice Ekwo ruled

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