$418m Paris Club Debt Deductions: Court Of Appeal Orders Stay Of Proceedings On Contempt Motion Against 5 SANs
A Court of Appeal, Abuja, has on Wednesday ordered stay of proceedings relating to the contempt motion against five Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) involved in the 418 million dollars judgment debt suit.
The affected SANs are Sunday Ameh, Jibrin Okutepa, Dr Garba Tetengi, Ahmed Raji and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro.
In a motion Ex-parte filed on the 16th of May 2022, the Attorney General of Abia and 35 Ors vs The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Ors in Appeal No CA/Abj/405/2022, the 36 States Attorneys General had prayed the Court of Appeal for the following orders, namely:
1. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court staying proceedings or all further proceedings of the Federal High Court Abuja Division in Suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/1313/2022 between A.G Abia & 35 Ors v. President Federal Republic of Nigeria & 42 Ors presided over by His Lordship, Hon. Justice I.E. Ekwo (Trial Court) pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal No. CA/ABJ/CV/405/2022 already entered since the 12th day of April 2022 and pending before this Honourable Court.
2. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court staying proceedings in the hearing or determination of the Contempt Proceedings and all other matters connected therewith whether on Motion on Notice or Motion Ex parte, in connection with Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1313/2021 between A.G Abia & 35 Ors v. President Federal Republic of Nigeria & 42 Ors presided over by His Lordship, Hon. Justice I.E. Ekwo (Trial Court) now on appeal before this Honourable Court, commenced against the Learned Senior Counsel to the Appellants/Applicants particularly: S.I Ameh, SAN, J.S Okutepa, SAN, Dr Garba Tetengi SAN, MNI, Ahmed Raji SAN and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro, SAN pending the hearing and determination of Appeal No. CA/ABJ/CV/405/2022 pending before this Honourable Court.
3. AN ORDER of this Honourable Court restraining the Respondents herein, their agents, servants, privies, associates, partners and assigns and or any other persons howsoever described acting under the instructions of the Respondents from interfering and or further interfering with the subject matter of this Appeal or embarking on any act aimed at harassing, intimidating, embarrassing, irritating and abusing the process of the Honourable Court either online or in print within or outside the precinct of any Court, Tribunal or administrative Body against senior members of the Bar and Senior Advocates of Nigeria to wit: S.I Ameh, SAN, J.S Okutepa, SAN, Dr Garba Tetengi SAN, MNI Ahmed Raji SAN and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro, SAN pending the hearing and determination of Appeal No. CA/ABJ/CV/405/2022 pending before this Honourable Court.
The motion was moved by Mr J. S. Okutepa SAN and Aare Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN leading Kenneth Iweka Esq and Ojonimi S. Apeh Esq. The counsel prayed the Court to grant the motion after drawing the attention of the court to the various exhibits and affidavit of urgency.
The Court after hearing learned Senior counsel granted prayers 1-3 and struck out prayer 4. The Court then adjourned to 2nd day of June 2022 to hear the motions on notice and ordered that hearing notice be served on the Respondents in the Appeal
The five SANs were alleged to have placed a notice, warning all the banks in Nigeria and abroad against dealing with the respondents (Panic Alert Security Systems Limited and Dr George Uboh) who the March 25 judgment was given in their favour with respect to promissory notes.
The notes were issued by the Federal Government and intended to be discounted and given value from funds due to the states of the federation from the federation account in respect of judgment debts in connection with Paris Club refund contracts pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
The applicants had, through their lawyer in the contempt charge, urged the court to commit the five SAN to prison custody for alleged contempt of court in the 418 million dollars judgment debt suit.
They also prayed the court to ensure that the five SANs are reported to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) of the Body of Benchers.
They described the attitude of the senior lawyers against the March 25 judgment delivered by Justice Ekwo as “infamous conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”