The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in the N66 billion suit instituted by the 36 states against the Federal Government, bordering on the funding of capital and recurrent expenditure of courts of record in states of the federation.
In the suit marked: SC/CV/655/2020 and dated September 16, 2020, the federating states are specifically seeking an order of the apex court compelling the federal government to take up the funding of High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal. The States are asking for the refund of N66 billion they claimed the 36 states expended in the maintenance of the courts in their respective states. They are also asking the apex court for another order setting aside the Presidential Executive Order 10, on the grounds that the same was in violation of the express provisions of the constitution.
Meanwhile, the apex court reserved judgment after taking submissions of parties for and against the suit as well as from five amicus curiea invited by the court to speak on the matter.
Justice Datijo announced that judgment of the panel has been reserved to a date that would be communicated to parties in the matter.
Before judgment was reserved, the five amicus curiea (lawyers invited as friends of the court) invited by the court over the issue gave different opinions on the issue.
While three of them took side with the 36 states, to the effect that the federal government should be responsible for the funding of capital expenditure for the three courts since they are establishments of the federal government, the other two aligned themselves with the federal government, stressing that while the federal government should be responsible for federal courts, state governments should be responsible for courts within their individual states.
Those that supported the plaintiffs’ case were Adegboyega Awolomo (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Sebastian Hon (SAN).
But Agbakoba, however, disagreed with the plaintiffs on the issue of refund, stating that nobody, in the first place, asked them to assume responsibility for capital expenditure of the three courts.
The two amicus curiea, who spoke in favour of the federal government were: Mahmood Magaji (SAN) and Musibawu Adetunbi (SAN).
It was their submission that the constitution was clear as to the responsibility of the federal government in respect of the three courts, adding that the apex court should not be tempted to disrupt the system.
However, Adetunbi was in agreement with the plaintiffs on the issue of Executive Order 10, which he said should be set aside for being unconstitutional. The 36 states’ Attorneys General and Commissioners for Justice had last year dragged the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to the apex court over the refusal or failure of the federal government to fund courts of the federation.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Datijo announced that judgment of the panel has been reserved to a date that would be communicated to parties in the matter.
DHQ confirms arrest of Owo church attackers
The Defence Headquarters has confirmed its arrest of suspected terrorists behind the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, that killed scores of worshippers.
Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said this on Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja.
Some gunmen suspected to be terrorists on June 5 attacked the church, with 40 people confirmed dead after the incident.
On June 17, the funeral for the slain worshippers was conducted at the Mydas Resort and Hotel in Owo.
The names and photographs of those killed in the church were published in the funeral handbook, while 74 names were listed as those who sustained injuries during the attack.
Sanusi: I warned Buhari govt its policies will destroy Nigeria’s economy
Former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has said he warned the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that its economic policies would destroy Nigeria’s economy.
He also lamented the current state of the nation, saying Nigeria would not be where it is if public office holders had taken their job seriously.
The former emir, who spoke in Lagos at a stage play titled “Emir Sanusi: Truth in Time”, said every inherent danger in the economic polices he had warned the administration when he newly came on board in 2015/2016 was what the country was facing currently.
The former Kano Emir recalled how he wrote a confidential letter to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor voicing his strong concerns about the economy.
“If every president, every governor, every minister, every commissioner took their job seriously, this country will not be where it was,” he stated.
“If people are willing to be ministers, commissioners, governors and presidents for eight years, and not tell us how they have improved our lives, we have a problem.”
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He charged politicians to be accountable to the people.
Sanusi asked Nigerians to take charge of the country, he said Africa’s most populous nation will not move forward until actual steps are taken.
The ex-CBN governor also spoke on why he usually criticises government policies he found not to be good enough, saying what many do not know is that he would have advised the officials privately for months before going public.
On the current administration, Sanusi said he warned the Federal Government of the dangers of its policies in 2015, especially how it would destroy the economy.
“With the current administration, I spent the whole of 2015 and 2016 speaking to everybody who should be communicated to, and telling them that the economic policies they were pursuing were going to destroy the Nigerian economy.
“It was only when that failed that I spoke publicly, and we had to speak. Now the question which everybody is asking is should an Emir speak? The answer is yes and it depends on what you are speaking on,” he added.
According to Sanusi, he served as Chief Risk Officer at the United Bank for Africa, at First Bank, and also as CBN governor; as Emir of Kano for six years.
He stated that he would be ungrateful to God if he expressed regret or sadness over his removal as emir despite his position in life.
Nigeria, three others top World Bank debtors’ list
Rising debt has pushed Nigeria up the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.
The World Bank Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, known as the IDA financial statement, showed that Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021.
However, the newly released World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for IDA showed that Nigeria has moved to the fourth position on the list, with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.
This shows that Nigeria accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, with the country taking over the fourth top debtor position from Vietnam.
This debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The top five countries on the list slightly reduced their IDA debt stock except Nigeria.
India, which is still the first on the list reduced its IDA debt stock from $22bn in the previous fiscal year to $19.7bn, followed by Bangladesh from $18.1bn to $18bn.
It is followed by Pakistan which cut its debt from $16.4bn to $15.8bn, and lastly, Vietnam, which went down the list to fifth position, from $14.1bn to $12.9bn.
Nigeria has the highest IDA debt in Africa, as the top three IDA borrowers (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are from Asia. The World Bank disclosed recently that Nigeria’s debt, which may be considered sustainable for now, is vulnerable and costly.
The bank said, “Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
However, the Washington-based global financial institution added that the country’s debt was also at risk of becoming unsustainable in the event of macro-fiscal shocks.
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The bank further expressed concerns over the nation’s cost of debt servicing, which according to it, disrupted public investments and critical service delivery spending.
Economists have also raised concerns over the rising debt profile of the Federal Government.
The Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader of PwC, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, expressed his agreement with the World Bank on the high cost of debt servicing.
He said, “I agree with the World Bank. Although the debt to GDP ratio is not too high, if you think about the debt service cost to revenue ratio, it is already over 70 per cent. That’s when you know it’s costly.
“Nigeria borrows at double-digit, and even when we borrow in dollars, the rates are very high and then you devalue the naira and the cost of servicing the debt in naira goes up because it is dollar-dominated debt.
“Put all of that together, and you can easily say to yourself that even though our debt to GDP ratio is very low, our cost of borrowing is unsustainable because it is very high, and therefore, make it very costly.”
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, also criticised the increasing borrowing tendency of the government, urging the officials to re-consider other ways of generating revenue for the country.
According to Moghalu, it was also not reasonable to borrow for infrastructural development as the government could expand the public-private partnership options for such development.
In a document by the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, recently obtained by our correspondent, the DMO stated that high debt levels would often lead to high debt services and affect investments in infrastructure.
According to the DMO DG, “High debt levels lead to heavy debt service which reduces resources available for investment in infrastructure and key sectors of the economy.”
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