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$418m Paris Club Refunds: FG, Governors, Consultants Know Fate March 25

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Come March 25, 2022, the governors of the 36 states in the federation would know if the federal government could go ahead as scheduled to pay six consultants, the sum of $418 million being fees accrued to them, for helping the states recover billions of dollars deducted in excess from their accounts in the payment of the Paris Club loan to Nigeria.

The governments of the 36 states had dragged the federal government before a Federal High Court in Abuja, for concluding and making arrangements that would enable government agencies deduct the sum of $418 million from funds belonging to the states to settle debts owed the said consultants.

However, after lawyers to parties in the suit adopted and argued their final written addresses, trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo announced that the court would deliver its verdict in the matter come March 25.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1313/2021, the governors were praying the court to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari and others from effecting the planned deduction from states’ funds to settle the alleged $418 million debt owed the consultants by states and LGs.

While adopting his brief of argument, lead lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mr. Sunday Ameh, submitted that the defendants misconstrued the case of the 36 states to be one challenging existing judgments given by the court in favour of some of the consultants.

“We are not challenging the judgments, we are saying the way the federal government and its agencies are going about enforcing the judgments violates sections 120 and 162 of the constitution,” he said.

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According to the senior lawyer, the governors were not averse to the federal government’s issuance of promissory notes to the consultants (also sued as defendants), but became uncomfortable when it (FG) issued a notice to commence deduction from the states’ accounts.

Ameh submitted further that since the federal government agreed that the contractors were owed in relation to the services they rendered, it should settle the indebtedness without deploying funds belonging to the states and local governments.

According to the plaintiffs, “if the federal government is inclined to pay the debt, it should look for other ways to do so and leave the funds belonging to the state govts and LGs alone.”

Ameh subsequently urged the court to grant the prayers of his clients and stop FG from making any deductions from their accounts in respect of the $418 million debt.

Meanwhile, the defendants on their parts faulted the argument of the plaintiffs and urged the court to rule in their favour.

Defendants’ lawyers, including Wole Olanipekun, Maimuna Lami Shiru (acting Director, Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice) and Olusola Oke, faulted the competence of the suit and urged the court to dismiss it.

Olanipekun, who represented one of the consultants, Dr. Ted Iseghohi-Edwards (14th defendant), described the plaintiffs as meddlesome interlopers, noting that the state governments claimed to be fighting for the local governments, a distinct tier of government, without the consent of the third tier of government.

He prayed the court to dismiss the suit for being time wasting and constituting an abuse of court process.

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Also arguing, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, who represented the federal government, argued that not only was the suit statute barred, the plaintiffs were seeking the impossible by asking the court to sit on appeal over judgments earlier delivered by it and other courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

Shiru informed the court that the decision by the federal government to issue promissory notes to the consultant as a way of settling the debt owed them was legitimate, adding that the plaintiffs cannot distance themselves from the decision taken by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in engaging some of the consultants.

Another defence lawyer, Chief Olusola Oke, who represented Riok Nigeria Limited and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu argued that the suit is without merit and should be dismissed.

After listening to the submissions of all parties in the case, Justice Ekwo announced that judgment is fixed for March 25, 2022.

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Man impregnates, strangles boss’ teenage daughter in Bauchi

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A 27-year-old home help has been arrested by the police in Mai’ari Arewa village, Pali district in the Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State, for allegedly strangling his boss’ daughter after he impregnated her.

The suspect, Munkaila Ado, was said to have impregnated the 13-year-old girl and connived with her mother to take her to Gombe State for an abortion.

The state police spokesperson, Ahmed Wakil, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.

He said that after successfully aborting the four-month-old pregnancy, the suspect and his friend strangled the victim, burnt her body beyond recognition and buried her in a shallow grave at a nearby bush in the Akko LGA of Gombe State.

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The spokesperson said that the teenager’s father, who discovered that his daughter was missing and suspected his houseboy and his accomplice, reported the matter at the Alkaleri Divisional Police Headquarters.

He said, “On interrogation, the suspect confessed that the missing girl was his girlfriend who was four-month pregnant to the knowledge of her mother but unknown to the father, Alhaji Danladi Mohammed.

Wakil added, “He further revealed that he conspired with the mother of the girl and his accomplice, Muazu Umar, to take the victim to Gombe for an abortion.

“On reaching Gombe, the victim was led to the house of one Hajiya Amina Abubakar, female, (50), in Jekada Fari, behind specialist hospital Gombe where the victim was administered with some substances to cause miscarriage.

“Eventually, on their way to Mai’ari village along Akko LGA Gombe State, the two aforementioned suspects strangled the victim. They burnt the body beyond recognition and buried it in a shallow grave at a nearby bush in Akko LGA Gombe State.’’

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Nigerian Bludgeons Chinese Man to Death in Italy

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Robert Omo, a Nigerian residing in Avellino, southern Italy, has been arrested for the murder of a Chinese man in the country.

According to the Times of Malta, Omo, 24, allegedly bludgeoned the Chinese man to death using a hammer. He was also reported to have injured a Bulgarian during the attack.

The Nigerian was said to have attacked the two men unprovoked on July 30, first striking the 49-year-old Bulgarian from behind and then attacking the 59-year-old Chinese man who had stepped in to prevent him from further assaulting his first victim.

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The Bulgarian is receiving treatment in a hospital after sustaining serious injuries from the attack, while the Chinese man died on the spot.

It was also reported that Omo once served a 12-month jail term for bestiality in Malta.

After serving the jail sentence, he was deported from Malta, but the Nigerian found his way to Italy.

Reports revealed that Omo was once expelled from a care home in Avellino after he assaulted one of its workers.

After charges were brought against him over the recent attack, he pleaded not guilty, claiming he could not recall what happened during the incident.

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Female footballers, officials abducted, kidnappers demand N30m

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Police Public Relations Officer in Delta State, DSP Bright Edafe

Six people, which include players and officials of a grassroots female team, were reportedly kidnapped by gunmen in Uronigbe, a border community between Edo and Delta states in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.

Our correspondent learnt that the six victims were kidnapped around 6pm on Friday, while returning from a game at Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State.

A source in the community said the kidnapers had contacted some families demanding a ransom of N5m each for the victims.

Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State, Chidi Nwabuzor

He said, “They (footballers) went to Owa-Alero to play a football match, but on their way back, they were kidnapped at Uronigbe area, the boundary between Delta and Edo.

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“The victims include Mrs Precious Agbajor, one Abraham, Nancy, Beatrice, the driver and one other person. They are six in number that are in the kidnapper’s den. The matter has been reported at the Uronigbe police station.

“The kidnappers have contacted the family of Agbajor and asked them to pay N5m for his wife.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Delta State, DSP Bright Edafe, confirmed the kidnap, adding that the incident happened in Edo State.

His Edo State counterpart, Chidi Nwabuzor, said from the records available at the State Command, there was no information on the incident.

“You know we transmit our records to Force Headquarters everyday. There is no such record before us. From the Command’s record, no such incident happened yesterday (Friday), so the police will not give account of anything unreported.

“It is only when an incident is reported that the police can act on it. In most cases, citizens are not aware of the powers to report incidents. So the record I have from the Command is that no such incident happened yesterday (Friday), today (Saturday) and even the day before yesterday (Thursday).”

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