A consent judgment entered in favor of Panic Alert Security Systems Ltd. against the Trustees of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) for the payment of certain individuals and organizations for their roles in the Paris Club refund received by the Federal Government has been overturned by an Abuja Federal High Court.
Panic Alert Security Systems Limited had used the consent decision in support of its demand for $47, 821, 920 in professional fees.
Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, had already advised that the money be given to the corporation and had equally relied on the judgment before it was rendered by Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho.
To dispute the consent judgment that the AGF had relied on in court, the 36 State Governors gave their counsel, Mr. Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, instructions after becoming unsatisfied with the AGF’s advice based on the consent ruling.
According to Justice John Tsoho, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the aforementioned consent decision was entered entirely without jurisdiction.
The court agreed with Mr. Ogbole, SAN, the attorney for the 36 State Governors, that the reliefs sought by Panic Alert Systems Ltd. against NGF in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018 were based on a simple contract, in violation of Section 251 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which denies the court the necessary jurisdiction to hear such cases from the outset.
The court accordingly overturned the consent judgment in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018.
The decision nullifies any approvals made by the AGF, the President, the Minister of Finance, the Accountant-General of the Federation, and the Debt Management Office that were based on, connected to, or related to Panic Alert’s claims.
Additionally, all Promissory Notes, checks, and other financial instruments that the Federal Government had issued in the name of Panic Alert were void, revoked, and of no further force or effect.
The judgement was made in response to an application for the reversal of the alleged consent judgment in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018 that was submitted by the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum on June 30, 2021.
The Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to have heard a case based on a simple contract, according to Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), according to the motion that was filed and argued by counsel to the NGF, Mr. Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, against Panic Alert Security Systems Ltd. and Dr. George Uboh and others.
In the lawsuit, Panic Alert Security Systems Limited claimed to have been hired by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to analyze a 16-page decision in Linas International LTD v. Federal Government of Nigeria & 3 Ors., Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013.
As consulting fees, which were never agreed upon or detailed in any contract with the NGF, the company claimed it was entitled to $47,821,920.
On April 8, 2021, it subsequently filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in the Federal High Court of Abuja.
However, in its application to set aside the consent decision, the NGF argued—through counsel Paul Haris Ogbole, SAN—that the Consent judgment resulting from the lawsuit did not award Panic Alert the amount of ($47,821,920) or any other money.
He argued that, on the contrary, the ruling just indicated that Panic Alert will be forwarded to the Federation’s Attorney General for verification and resolution.