8M Paris Club Refund: Court grants substituted Service of Contempt on four lawyers

$418M Paris Club Refund: Court grants substituted Service of Contempt on four lawyers

A Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, has ordered that contempt charge motion against four Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) involved in the $418 million dollar Paris club refund suit be served through courier services.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order following complaints that the four senior lawyers have allegedly refused to personally receive the charge as required by law.

The four Senior lawyers are Sunday Ibrahim Ameh, Jubrin Okutepa, Garba Tetengi and Olumuyiwa Akinboro.
The contempt charge was initiated against them by a private company, Panic Alerts and its sponsor, George Uboh, who accused the lawyers of engaging in wrongdoings in their service to their client.

In the contempt charge, the Senior Advocates were alleged to have placed what is called “Caveat Emptor” on the judgment of the Federal High Court which granted permission to President Muhammadu Buhari to deduct the $418 million dollars 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 execution of the $418M judgment debt against the 36 States as their clients.

During the proceeding, counsel to George Uboh and Panic Alert, Mr Emeka Okoro moved an ex-parte application which asked Justice Ekwo to order the contempt charge be served on the senior lawyers through a nominated courier company on the ground that they allegedly evaded personnal service as required by law and by pasting same in their respective offices.

Ruling on the application
Justice Ekwo in a brief ruling on the ex-parte application ordered that motion for contempt charge be served on the senior lawyers within seven days and fixed May 26 for 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 judgment debt itself had been lodged at the Court of Appeal and that the Federal High Court no longer has jurisdiction in respect of it.

Ameh further told the court that the records of proceedings have been transmitted to 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.

Emmanuel Ukoh

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