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Court Rejects Governors’ Application To Join Paris Club Refund Suit

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A federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the application by the Governors’ Forum seeking to be included as a party to the suit regarding the controversial Paris Club Refund.

This newspaper gathered that the federal government is owing some consultants and contractors for services rendered during negotiations for the refund to the tune of $418m.

While the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had approved that the owed sum be paid, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) headed by Ekiti state Governor, Kayode Fayemi kicked against the decision.

So, in a suit filed by Linas International Ltd and other contractors against the Federal Government, the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation; the Governors sought to be joined as an interested party.

In the suit with no FHC/ABJ/130/2013, the Governors’ Forum had sought the leave of the court to be joined in the suit, among other prayers.

The applicant (Governors’ Forum) had also sought the leave of the court to appeal against the judgment of Hon. Justice A.F.A Ademola (Retd.), which asked the defendants to pay Linas International a judgment sum as consultancy fee for the job it carried for local government areas across the country over the Paris Club Refund.

According to the presiding Judge, Justice J.T Tsoho, where time to appeal had elapsed before the applicant became aware of the decision appealed against as in the case at hand, it stands to reason that this court has lost the power to grant such leave, noting that the judgment it sought to appeal was given in 2016.

“This is so because it is trite law that the Federal High Court can neither extend the time within which to file a notice of appeal nor grant extension of time to apply for leave to appeal. Only the Court of Appeal has the jurisdictional competence to do so.

“Under the doctrine of stare decisis, this court is bound to follow the decision of the Supreme Court on this issue.

“Accordingly, I hold that this court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought on the motion paper. Therefore the motion dated 12th April, 2021 but filed on 12th June 2021 is liable to be struck out for being incompetent,” he ruled.

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