Court Orders Service Of Contempt Charge Against Four SANs Over $418m Paris Club Refund Dispute

ByOgunrinde Abiodun

Apr 27, 2022


A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday ordered that the contempt charge petition against four Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) involved in the $418 million Paris Club reimbursement action be served on them via courier services.

Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order for substituted service in response to concerns that the four senior attorneys had reportedly refused to physically accept the charge as required by law.

Sunday Ibrahim Ameh, Jubrin Okutepa, Garba Tetengi, and Olumuyiwa Akinboro are the four Senior Advocates.

A private company, Panic Alerts, and its sponsor, George Uboh, filed the contempt complaint against them, accusing the attorneys of professional malpractice.

In the contempt charge, the senior advocates were alleged to have placed “Caveat Emptor” on the judgment of the Federal High Court which granted permission to President Muhammadu Buhari to deduct the $418 million from the financial allocations of the 36 state governments as payments for debt they incurred during the Paris Club refund contract.

The implications of the “Caveat Emptor”, according to the two applicants, was to impede the execution of the $418m judgment debt against the 36 States as their clients.

At Wednesday proceeding, counsel to George Uboh and Panic Alert, Emeka Okoro moved an ex-parte application which asked Justice Ekwo to order the contempt charge to be served on the senior lawyers through courier on the ground that they allegedly evaded personal service as required by law.

The aggrieved applicants asked the court for an order to serve the contempt charge on the lawyers through a nominated courier company and by pasting the same in their respective offices. Justice Ekwo in a brief ruling on the ex-parte application ordered that the motion for contempt charge be served on the senior lawyers within seven days and fixed May 26 for the hearing of the motion.

One of the senior lawyers, Sunday Ibrahim Ameh had made frantic efforts to stop hearing of the ex-parte application on the ground that an appeal against the debt judgment itself had been lodged at the Court of Appeal and that the Federal High Court no longer have jurisdiction in respect of it.

Ameh further told the court that the records of proceedings have been transmitted to the Court of Appeal while the appeal itself has been entered in favour of the appellants (36 states) and urged the court not to do anything in respect of the matter.

However, Justice Ekwo proceeded with the ex- parte application and granted the requests of the two applicants.

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