An anti-graft coalition, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate a fraudulent judgement obtained by the 774 local government councils against the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay the LGs a sum of $3, 188, 079,505.96 ( Three billion, one hundred and eighty eight million, seventy nine thousand and five hundred and five naira, ninety six kobo) and the diversion of $1.6billion.
In a follow-up to a report in the Punch Newspaper of June 15, 2015, titled “Controversy rages over $3.2 billion judgment against FG”, the coalition’s national chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, said the group is petitioning the anti-graft agency to investigate the activities of the former Attorney-General of the Federation Mohammed Adoke (SAN); former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and lawyer, Mr. Joe Agi (SAN) in the alleged fraud.
According to CSNAC, its private investigation indicates that serious economic and financial crimes have been committed by the public officers and private individuals who facilitated the procurement of the fraudulent judgment.
The petition reads: “In Suit No FHC/ABJ/129/2013 filed on June 11, 2013 at the Federal High Court, Abuja some local governments and Linas International Limited sued the Attorney-General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance and Accountant-General of the Federation over the illegal deductions made by the Federal Government from the statutory allocations of the 774 local government councils in the Federation Account for London Club Debt buy back in 1992 and London Club Debit exit in 2006.
“In the originating summons the plaintiffs claimed the sum of $3.2 billion payable to them from the Federation Account. The court processes were served on the Defendants. In spite of the serious claims of the plaintiffs the defendants did not file any defence or brief any lawyer to defend the Federal Government.”
The coalition noted that the suit challenged the decision of the Federal Government taken in 1992 but the action was based on the 1999 Constitution which came into force in May 1999. “Besides, the case was filed to challenge the decision taken by the Federal Government 21 years earlier. With respect to the payment of Paris Club debt in 2006 the action took place 7 years earlier. Yet the trial Judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola gave judgment to the plaintiffs contrary to the Public Officers Protection Act which has barred the institution of any action against the action of a public officer after 3 months.
“The lawyer who instituted the case is the personal friend and lawyer of Justice Ademola. When the judge was accused of judicial misconduct by the National Judicial Council not too long ago it was Mr. Joe Agi SAN who represented him free of charge before the panel of the NJC which investigated the complaint.
“In a judgement delivered on December 3, 2013 , Justice Ademola ordered the Federal Government to pay the sum of $3, 188, 079,505.96 ( Three billion, one hundred and eighty eight million, seventy nine thousand and five hundred and five naira, ninety six kobo) to the plaintiffs.
“The defendants did not appeal against the judgment and did not draw the attention of the Federal Executive Council to the judgment sum. The application for the fiat of the Attorney-General to authorize the payment of the judgment debt was granted by Mr, Adoke SAN while Dr. Okonjo-Iweala authorised the payment of the judgment sum.
“Out of the judgment sum of $3.2 billion $1.6 billion has been paid to the plaintiffs. The sum of $1.6 billion was paid into Mr. Joe Agi’s Account at the Sky Bank PlC. The Sort Code No is 076151019 while the Account No is 10060003931.”
While noting that the Debt Management Office (DMO), was curious about judgement and in a letter to the Office of Accountant General of the Federation dated 12th July, 2012 and with reference no: DMO/DRS/01/057/11/430 opposed the court judgment, advising the Office of Accountant General against payment of the claims by Linas International Limited.
“It reminded the AGF of the legal error in challenging an action in 1992 under a constitution that was promulgated in 1999. It also stated that repayment done in 1995 was under a unitary military government where all decisions affecting state and local government were taken at federal level.
But in a dramatic turn of event, “the office of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, via a letter with reference no: HAGF/CJD/2014/VOL. II/357 and dated 24th March, 2015, conveyed his consent, pursuant to section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Act for the judgment payment from government accounts. It was on the basis of the fraudulent consent that the sum of $1.6 billion was paid and shared by the criminal suspects.”
The coalition averred further that although the Federal High Court directed that the judgment sum be used to provide security and mobile health care system in each of the 774 local government councils in Nigeria the part payment of $1.6 billion has been diverted, the payment of the sum of $1.6 billion was, however not reported in any of the meetings of the FAAC and the National Economic Council.
After the initial ruling, the Justice Ademola was said to have in another suit between the same parties delivered judgment on the same day and also ordered the consultants to be paid.
The judgments read, “The plaintiff is entitled to be paid consultancy fees of N1,000,000.00 per Local Government plus 20 per cent of all refunds made or yet to be made to each Local Government in settlement of Paris Club debt, whether the refunds were made to the Local Government or through any of their agents or agencies including the 4th Defendant.
“That a declaration is made that the 2nd and 3rd Defendants are entitled to deduct at source and pay to the Plaintiff through his lawyer all consultancy fees due to the Plaintiffs from all Local Governments of Nigeria on account of the excess crude funds used by the Federal Government in settlement of Paris Club debt.
“That a mandatory order is hereby made on the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to deduct at source and pay to the Plaintiff through his lawyer Joe Agi SAN all consultancy fees.
“That a mandatory order of injunction is hereby made restraining the 2nd and 3rd Defendants from releasing further funds to the Local Government unless all consultancy fees have been deducted at source and paid to the Plaintiff through his lawyer’s account with Skye Bank Plc, Sort Code 076151019 – Account No: 1060003931.”
CSNAC said from the two judgments delivered on December 3, 2013, the judge awarded N774 million to the consultant as consultancy fees and proceeded to award another 20 per cent of all the recovered fund as consultancy fees to the same consultant in the second suit. The judge then proceeded to order that the remaining fund be paid to companies and individuals who were not parties to either of the two suits. In the Order of Garnishee issued by the judge on 20/5/2015 he ordered payment”
“A(i) Phil-Tech Nigeria Limited, the sum of USD 157,755,935.56 to be paid into FBN Plc A/C No: 2025939578 (First Bank of Nigeria Plc).
(ii) To Orji Nwafor-Orizu the sum of USD 1,354,933.78 to be paid into Diamond Bank Plc. A/C 0051329942.
(iii) To Bello Olaitan Busayo the sum of USD 239,105.96 to be paid into FBN Plc A/C 2025921142.
B(i) RIOK Nigeria Limited, the sum of USD315,619,871.1 to be paid into FBN Plc A/C 2025947832 (First Bank Plc.
(ii) To Orji Nwafor-Orizu the sum of USD2,709,867.67 to be paid into Diamond Bank A/C 0051329942.
(iii) To Bello Olaitan Busayo the sum of USD 478,211.92 to be paid into FBN Plc A/C 2025921142.
C(i) XI Nigeria Limited the sum of USD 154,621,856.128 t be paid into GTB A/C No:0022764433 (Guarantee Trust Ban Plc.)
(ii) To Orji Nwafor-Orizu the sum of USD4,064,801.37 to be paid into Diamond Bank Plc. A/C 0051329942.
(iii) To Bello Olaitan Busayo the sum of USD717,317.80 to be paid into FBN A/C2025921142.
D(i) SNECOU Group of Company Limited, the sum of USD157,755,935.56 to paid into UBA A/C No: 300093201 (United Bank of Africa Plc.)
(ii) To Orji Nwafor-Orizu the sum of USD1,354,933.78 to be paid into Diamond Bank Plc A/C 0051329942.
(iii) To Bello Olaitan Busayo the sum of USD239,105.96 to be paid into FBN A/C2025921142.
E(i) Wells Procurement Services Limited, the sum of USD318,807,950.596 being 10% of the portion of the judgment sum of USD318,807,950.596 as adjudged in the judgment in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/13 between Linas International Limited & 235 Ors. v. The Federal Government of Nigeria & 3 Ors.
(i) Systematic Engineering Limited, the sum of USD156,215,601.79 to be paid into Diamond Bank Plc. A/C No: 0054426581.
(ii) To Orji Nwafor-Orizu the sum of USD3,188,073.50 to be paid into Diamond Bank Plc. A/C 0051329942.”
“From our findings we have confirmed that serious economic and financial crimes have been committed by the public officers and private individuals who facilitated the procurement of the fraudulent judgment. In view our findings we appeal to you to investigate how the judgment sum was obtained, the connivance of the offices of the Attorney-General, Minister of Finance and Accountant-General with the plaintiffs to dupe the Federal Government in the payment of the sum of $1.6 billion from the Federation Account.
“You may wish to demand from Mr. Joe Agi SAN the resolution of each of the local governments in the country authorizing him to file the suit, the evidence that the local governments appointed Linas International Limited as their consultant and that they agreed to pay the company consultancy fee of 20 per cent of the judgement sum and the services rendered by the company. The lawyer should also furnish you with evidence of the disbursement of the sum of $1.6 billion which was paid into his personal bank account.
“Since majority of the local governments in the country currently owe arrears of workers’ salaries we urge the Commission to speed up the investigation of this complaint so that the sum of $1.6 billion which has been paid to the plaintiffs can be recovered without any delay,” the petition reads.