P&ID Case: Nigerian Govt Guarantees $200m Bond To UK Court

A file photo of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,

 

 

The Nigerian government says it has provided a bank guarantee of $200 million to a court in the United Kingdom.

This is part of its efforts to overturn the $9.2 billion judgement debt delivered against it by a British court in favour of an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), which the government says is a result of fraud and corruption.

According to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a statement on Thursday, the development is a positive step for Nigeria to set aside the judgement.

In pursuit of this, the Federal Government has also provided a bank guarantee of $200 million to the UK court, following the court’s acceptance of a request from Nigeria for a stay of execution of the $9.2 billion judgement debt.

In a statement confirming the provision of the bond, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that the government does not plan to forfeit the guaranteed sum to the court in the UK.

Malami also reiterated the point raised by the Nigerian government that the contract was fictitious.

P&ID had earlier approached a UK court to seek compensation for an aborted contract it signed with the government during the administration of Late President Umaru Yar’adua in 2010, to build a gas supply and processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State capital.

Nigeria Owes More Than N150bn In Judgment Debt – Malami

Abubakar Malami
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, appeared on an episode of Channels TV’s NewsNight, which was first aired on Monday, November 4, 2019.

 

Nigeria is yet to settle more than N150 billion in judgment debt, according to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Mr. Malami made the comment during Channels Television’s Newsnight program which aired on Monday.

“Right now, there exists over N150 billion judgment debt against the interest of the federal government, as at 2015, when this government came into being,” Mr. Malami said.

 “Our national assets all over the globe are experiencing one threat or the other, targeted at enforcing these judgments.”

However, some of the judgment debts are believed to have been obtained illegally, according to the Minister.

“What we have tried to do is to profile those judgment debts, look into the circumstances that gave rise to them, assess and analyse them from the possibilities of insider compromises, fraud and corrupt practices,” Malami said.

“We have a responsibility of striking a balance between genuine judgments and those that are beclouded with some elements of fraud and reasonable ground of suspicion of compromises.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Malami noted that the P&ID gas deal, which included the award of a $9.6 billion judgment debt, was unfair, illegal and unjustifiable. 

“Mr President has ordered an investigation, directing agencies of government, including the EFCC and Police among others, to look into the circumstances that led to the (P&ID) award,” he said.

“The investigation report has indeed proven to be cogent and potent in terms of establishing fraud, thought of deceit,  suppression of facts and obtaining arbitral award on account of material suppression of facts, on account that the tribunal was misled into making an award because of the inherent falsehood in the witness deposition.

“Arising from the conduct of investigations, we have, as a nation this time around, decided to initiate an action seeking to nullify the contract, having been obtained and executed in material breaches.

“The principal characters in P&ID Nigeria admitted to wrongdoings and they were charged to court, pleaded guilty and were convicted. Arising from that conviction there was an incidental order winding off P&ID Nigeria and forfeiture of their assets. We are also taking steps to give effect to these orders.”

MTN Files 9,100-Page Document To Prove N3bn Suit Against AGF

Alleged $1.3bn Tax Assessment: Court To Rule On AGF, MTN’s Case In May

 

MTN Nigeria Communication Limited has filed a 9,100-page document in court to prove its N3bn claim against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Copies of the bulky document were brought in a coaster bus and delivered to the registry of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday.

The telecommunications firm had last year sued Malami over a letter in which he demanded that they pay N242bn and $1.3bn as import duties, withholding and value-added taxes – a move which the firm’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), described as ‘malicious, unreasonable and one made on an incorrect legal basis’.

According to Olanipekun, Malami acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the constitution on fair hearing with “the purported revenue assets investigation” he carried out on the firm’s activities covering 2007 to 2017.

Read Also: FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News

He, therefore, urged the court to award N3bn against Malami as general and exemplary damages.

The trial judge, Justice C.J. Aneke, had in May dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Malami, challenging the competence of the suit.

“From the endorsement on the writ, this suit was commenced on September 10, 2018 and a simple calculation shows that from August 23, 2018 when the cause of action arose to September 10, 2018, when the suit was instituted, a period of three months had not expired, as envisaged, for the suit to be statute barred,” Aneke ruled.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the case, however, stalled with Justice Aneke adjourning till January 30, 2020.

AGF Malami Meets Lawan, Gbajabiamila Over Seamless Passage Of Bills

 

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday met with the leadership of the National Assembly on developing a working relationship that would ensure seamless passage of bills.

Malami, for about an hour at the National Assembly, met with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and some principal officers of the Senate.

Malami told his hosts that the major issue of interest to the Office of the Attorney General and the Government is having a harmonious working relationship that is targeted at advancing the interest of the nation.

He added that it was against this background that several bills were proposed during the 8th National Assembly, while additional ones will be presented during the 9th National Assembly.

Malami expressed concerns that several bills presented to the eighth National Assembly were never passed nor assented to because of certain inadequacies or constitutional issues.”

“Enormous resources, energy and cost have gone into legislative process of lawmaking, and I feel the time is now right for us to work together for the purpose of eliminating the associated bottlenecks that have constituted hindrances to the passage of the bills and assenting thereto.

READ ALSO: NJC Recommends Appointment Of Four Supreme Court Judges, Other Officers

“My beneficial approach is to look at the possibility of working together between the executive and legislature; and where the need arises, the judiciary, in working on the bills before they proceed to the stages of public hearing.

“We cannot afford to expend resources, time and energy in formulating and drafting bills that will eventually not be passed or assented,” Malami said.

Malami suggested, as a way forward, sending advance legislative proposals for possible review and inputs of the lawmakers even before the final consideration of the draft bill by the executive.

In his response, the Senate President described the meeting as an “historic engagement” and commended the approach of the Executive.

Lawan said the present cordial relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly should be one driven by mutual respect and consultation between both arms of government.

“Our relationship should be based on mutual respect and consultation. This is a clear demonstration of the kind of consultation we have been talking about.

“We shouldn’t work at cross purposes; and beyond bills, we need to extend the consultation to other spheres of engagements for us to achieve optimal performance,” Lawan said.

According to him, the meeting was an important and historic engagement between the Office of the AGF and the current leadership of the National Assembly towards achieving a working relationship that would facilitate the seamless passage of bills and their assent by the President.

“This shows the kind of relationship that characterise the ninth National Assembly and the Executive arm of government, which essentially is for the benefit of Nigerians, the people we represent,” Lawan added.

“There are three major functions of the legislature; the oversight, representation and legislation.

“Legislation is a fundamental pillar of what we do here. Your office is in charge of executive bills that find their way to the National Assembly and therefore, this is an effort by the executive arm of government to ensure legislative processes that will start from the executive to the legislature or vice versa, should be seamless, speedy passage and effective implementation for good governance.

“When we process a bill, so much resources, effort and commitment are put into it; so we have to do everything possible to ensure that the processes are such that the outcomes justify the enormous resources put into the processing of the bills.”

To ensure a hitch-free passage of bills, the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives along with the Attorney-General of the Federation at the meeting underscored the need for committees to be constituted on both sides of government for the purpose of engagement.

“If there’s anything we identify that will cause us not to pass a bill, we will draw the attention of the executive to it and mandate our relevant committees to engage with the concerned agency and the AGF’s office so that all such issues are sorted out.

“We should have our bills assented to, whether they are executive bills or private members’ bills.

“This relationship is productive so far, it is working and helping this country and we will continue with it. However, that is not to say that we will compromise on things that are our mandate,” Lawan said.

The Senate President also called on the AGF to ensure that heads of agencies are carried along in the process of drafting executive bills to avoid sabotage from any quarter.

“I want to advise, that when an executive bill emanates from you, exhaust all opportunities for heads of agencies that will be affected by the eventual passage of the Bill into law to participate.

“Let them put in their ideas before you roundup work on the draft that will be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.

“Often times, heads of agencies deliberately refuse to attend public hearings, and when the bills are passed and sent to the president to sign, then they go around saying things about the bill stopping government from working and so on.

“The National Assembly would do everything to ensure optimal productivity, but those civil servants who sometimes feel they would lose power and authority would attempt to jeopardize the assent of the President.

“This is something that we have to address. When there’s a public hearing on a bill, we will make it mandatory for heads of agencies that are supposed to participate to attend. If they don’t attend, they shouldn’t go back to the President to advise against the assent to such bills.

“The government put in a lot of effort and resources, and we do the same. But one individual, like a Managing Director or Executive Secretary, who feels he or she may lose part of his mandate to another agency, may go ahead to sabotage the whole process. We need to guard against that.”

Senators in attendance are: the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Minority Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha; Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Ya’u Alhaji; Senator Albert Bassey (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North), and Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South).

Advise Buhari To Obey Court Order On Electricity Contracts, SERAP Tells Malami

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abukabar Malami, to advise President Muhammadu Buhari to enforce the judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, ordering the immediate release of details of payments to all defaulting and corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.

Deputy Director of the agency, Kolawole Oluwadare, in a letter said that the enforcement of the judgment will go a long way in protecting the integrity of the legal system.

He further stated that enforcing the judgement would prove the government’s commitment to the rule of law, and contribute to addressing the culture and legacy of corruption in the power sector.

See full statement below.

Advise Buhari to obey judgment on release of payment details on electricity contracts, SERAP tells Malami

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to use his “special role as the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria to advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to fully and effectively enforce the judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor ordering the immediate release of details of payments to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.”

Justice Obiozor, a Professor of Law, sitting at the Federal High Court, Lagos, had in July delivered a judgment in a Freedom of Information suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19, brought by SERAP, ordering the Federal Government to disclose and publish the names of companies and the whereabouts of the contractors paid by successive governments to carry out electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

In the open letter dated 13 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The enforcement of this judgment will be a special moment for the government’s anti-corruption agenda and the sovereignty of rule of law, as it would go a long way in protecting the integrity of our legal system.

“We urge you to make best efforts to advise and persuade President Buhari and Mr Sale Mamman, Minister of Power to begin to take steps that will ensure the full enforcement of this ground-breaking judgment.”

SERAP said: “Advising and persuading Mr Buhari and Mr Mamman to enforce the judgment against corrupt contractors and companies would show your commitment to the rule of law, and contribute to addressing the culture and legacy of corruption in the power sector.

It will show that you are not just Mr Buhari’s lawyer but also a defender of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the rule of law and public interest within the government, something which Justice Obiozor’s judgment seeks to serve.”

The letter read in part: “It is emphatically the province and constitutional duty of the Attorney General to advise on the enforcement of judicial decisions. It is important to do so here if power sector contractors and companies are not to continue to evade justice for their alleged corruption.”

“Taking action as recommended would be in keeping with Nigerians’ expectations, and entirely consistent with Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to ‘kill’ corruption–whether by public officials or private contractors—and help to build citizens’ trust and confidence in the ability of this government to take head-on the systemic corruption in the power sector.”

“Our democracy needs courts so that public officials and private actors including contractors can be held accountable for any infraction of Nigerian anti-corruption laws and international commitments. Constitutionalism and the rule of law are not in conflict with democracy; rather, they are essential to it.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in advising and persuading Mr Buhari and Mr Mamman to enforce and implement Justice Obiozor’s judgment. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

“A certified true copy of the judgment is enclosed with this letter for your attention and urgent action.”

It would be called that SERAP had in February filed the FoI suit against the Federal Government and former Minister of Power Mr Babatunde Fashola. The former minister then responded, saying that: “the Ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies but we could not find it from our records.”

SERAP said: “During the 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of Naira going down the drain.”

“Ordinary Nigerians have continued to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector, as the country has remained in darkness despite huge investment in the power sector by successive governments.”

In summary, Justice Obiozor in his judgment granted the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to provide SERAP with documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector by successive governments since 1999, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information, amounts to a breach of the obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2011

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to provide SERAP with specific documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects from successive governments since 1999 but failed to execute any of such projects, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information, amounts to a breach of the Respondent’s responsibility/obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2011

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently compile and make available to SERAP documents and information containing the specific names and details of contactors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contracts and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any of such information

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently compile and make available to SERAP documents and information containing the specific names and details of contactors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects from successive governments since 1999 but failed to execute any projects.

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector, amounts to a breach of the Respondent’s responsibility/obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector.

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
15/09/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

$9bn UK Penalty: FG To Prosecute All Persons Involved In Contract

 

The Federal Government has vowed to prosecute everyone linked with the contract that resulted in the judgment of the United Kingdom, Business and Property Courts (the Commercial Court) which awarded a cumulative sum of $9bn against Nigeria.

The commercial court awarded the sum in favour of a private firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited recently.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, announced the decision of the government to prosecute those involved on Thursday at a news briefing in Abuja.

READ ALSO: FG To Appeal British Court Orders Over Seizure Of $9bn

He said, “The Federal Government strongly views with serious concerns, the underhand manners by which the negotiation, signing, and formation of the contract was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration in connivance with their local and international conspirators, all in the bid to inflict grave economic adversity on the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria.”

Mr Malami questioned the sincerity of those behind the contract awarded in 2010 and alleged that it formed part of the inglorious legacies of past administrations.

He also decried the situation where the Muhammadu Buhari administration was made to grapple with the problems created by the previous administration.

The minister, however, stated that henceforth, contract of certain categories would be vetted by the Federal Ministry of Justice before being signed by any government agency.

He also expressed concerns about the impact of public corruption and the connivance of financial institutions in the thriving crime of illicit finance flow out of the country.

“As a government that has the mandate of the people and their interest at heart, we shall not fold our arms and allow this injustice to go unpunished,” Malami said.

He added, “All efforts, actions, and steps shall be taken to bring to book all private individuals, corporate entities, and government officials; home and abroad, past and present that played direct and indirect roles in the conception, negotiation, signing, formation, as well as prosecution of the purported agreement.”

Why President Buhari Rejected The PIGB – Malami

 

The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has explained the main reason why President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

According to him, it was rejected because some sections of it appeared to be self-serving and they put the interest of individuals above that of the public.

“That Bill (the PIG Bill) was fundamentally rejected among others, by the President because of the fact that the interest of the host community was compromised, in the sense that self-serving sections were brought into it, conferring powers on an individual as against the institution… and the public interest element of the role of the president requires that the public interest should be factored more as against public or individual interests,” he said.

Read Also: Why Some Individuals Remain In Custody Despite Bail – Malami

Mr Malami said this during his ministerial screening at the floor of the Senate on Friday while responding to questions about his plans if he was nominated.

According to him, one of the major things that he would like to address is the speed with which bills are being assented to by the President, through the establishment of strong collaboration between the arms of government.

“The major thing that I think I can do differently by way of ensuring that at the end of the day, bills coming from the National Assembly, are assented to, by the President is to establish a culture of collaboration – deep-rooted collaboration for that matter and not a collaboration as we see it today,” he said.

The PIGB which was rejected among five others, seeks to make the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC) the sole regulator overseeing the licensing, monitoring and supervising of petroleum operations.

It also gives the NPRC the powers to enforce industry laws, regulations, and standards.

Why Some Individuals Remain In Custody Despite Bail – Malami

 

The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has explained why some individuals remain in custody despite being granted bail by competent courts of jurisdiction.

During his ministerial screening at the floor of the Senate on Friday, Malami said the office of the AGF has the responsibility to always protect the interest of the public over that of individuals.

“The office of the Attorney General is meant to protect the public interest and where the individual interest conflicts with the public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having the country integrated must naturally prevail.

“I think that position has been very well stated by the apex court in the case of Asari Dokubo VS the Federal Republic of Nigeria that when an individual’s interest conflicts with public interest, the public interest will naturally prevail,” he said while responding to the question asked by Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, of why some persons remain in custody despite being granted bail.

Read Also: Senate Screening Of Ministerial Nominees Continues (DAY 3)

A section of the Senate, however, did not agree with his response, but Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, in his defence said the former AGF had answered the questions “satisfactorily”.

He also stated that contrary to the Senate’s agreement to screen each individual for about an hour, Malami had been screened for over an hour and should, therefore, be allowed to “take a bow”.

Meanwhile, Mr Malami also outlined some of the successes recorded during his time in office.

Some of them included a 159 per cent increase in recoveries, discovery of 230,000 ghost workers, enforcement of the BVN, Nigeria’s joining of the International Open Government Initiative and the establishment of the Whistle Blower Policy.

He said if returned as a minister he will ensure better collaboration between the arms of government and a commitment to public interest.

Hadi Sirika was the next ministerial nominee to be screened.

Others also expected to be screened today include Festus Keyamo, Geoffrey Onyeama, Lai Mohammed, Raji Fashola and Paullen Tallen.

AGF, Finance Minister, Others Attend Unveiling Of VOARS

AGF, Finance Minister, Others Attend Unveiling Of VOARS
Mr Abubakar Malami and Mrs Zainab Ahmed at the unveiling of the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS) in Abuja on April 2, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, as well as the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Tuesday attended the unveiling of the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS).

The event, which held in Abuja, was part of efforts to by the Federal Government to increase the nation’s tax base.

READ ALSONigerian Govt Launches Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme

It was also attended by the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler, among others.

The VOARS is aimed at encouraging foreign investments to develop infrastructure in Nigeria.

See the photos below:

Mr Abubakar Malami

FIRS Chairman, Mr Babatunde Fowler

Mrs Zainab Ahmed

Nigerian Govt Launches Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme

 

The Nigerian Government has unveiled the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS), as part of efforts to increase the nation’s tax base.

Addressing an audience at the unveiling ceremony on Tuesday in Abuja, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said the scheme was aimed at encouraging foreign investments to develop infrastructure in Nigeria.

He explained that the VOARS was an idea initiated by the Swiss Consortium with a view to facilitating regularisation of offshore assets owned by Nigerians.

READ ALSO: AGF, Finance Minister, Others Attend Unveiling Of VOARS

The AGF, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to key into the initiative of the government.

He gave assurance that when funds were voluntarily declared by the owners, the Federal Government would grant a permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for tax offences and offences related to offshore assets.

According to him, this includes immunity from tax audit of the declared and regularised offshore assets.

The unveiling ceremony held at the Transcorp Hilton in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Also in attendance were the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler, among others.

See photos below:

Alleged $1.3bn Tax Assessment: Court To Rule On AGF, MTN’s Case In May

Alleged $1.3bn Tax Assessment: Court To Rule On AGF, MTN’s Case In May

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed May 7 for ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, against telecoms giant, MTN.

In September 2018, MTN had instituted a suit to challenge the legality of the AGF’s assessment of its import duties, withholding tax and value-added tax in the sums of N242bn and $1.3bn.

The AGF had, however, contended that MTN’s suit was instituted outside the time prescribed by law.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel to the AGF, Tijani Gazali, who argued the preliminary objection urged the court to strike out the suit filed by MTN.

Gazali argued that the power of the AGF to write a letter to MTN for the payment of the import and withholding tax was included under Section 2A of the Public Officers Protection Act.

He said, “MTN filed this case as a result of a letter written by the AGF asking MTN to the pay tax due to the Federal Government of Nigeria over the past 10 years, but rather than responding to this directive they instituted this case.”

In the preliminary objection, the AGF’s counsel argued that the plaintiff in seeking redress on the subject matter, has just three months – from the date the cause of action arose – to institute the action.

He contended that the plaintiff commenced the suit in clear disregard of Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act, which provided that any action commenced against a public officer must be made within three months from the commencement of a cause of action.

The Gazali said the plaintiff’s failure to commence the suit within three months as stipulated by law robbed the court of jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He, therefore, urged the court to strike out or dismiss the suit.

MTN, through its lawyers, led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wole Olanipekun, told Justice Chukwujeku Aneke that the objections of the AGF was unfounded.

Olanipekun contended that the era of claiming that a suit was stature barred had been abolished in the Nigerian jurisprudence.

He cited Order 29 Rule 4 to the effect that the preliminary objection of the AGF was filed out of time and since there was no application for extension of time, it must fail.

The SAN also submitted that there was no competent application before the court.

He argued that the court cannot at this stage dismiss or strike out the suit without the evidence of parties.

Olanipekun then asked the court to dismiss the objection as being frivolous.

After listening to the arguments of both parties, Justice Aneke fixed May 7 for his ruling.

Agbakoba Slams AGF For Calling For Postponement Of Elections In Zamfara

Agbakoba Slams AGF For Calling For Postponement Of Elections In Zamfara
Olisa Agbakoba                                                                                                                     Abubakar Malami

 

A former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has criticised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, for his letter on elections in Zamfara State.

In a letter addressed to the minister and dated 14 February 2019, Agbakoba faulted the AGF for asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone other elections apart from the presidential poll in the state.

According to him, the action of the minister raises concerns about the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the coming elections are free and fair.

“It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn,” said Dr Agbakoba who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

He added, “President Muhammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.”

READ ALSOAGF Asks INEC To Recognise APC Candidates, Postpone Polls In Zamfara

In a letter which emerged earlier on Thursday, Mr Malami had asked to recognise the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamafara State for the elections.

He explained that his letter was informed by a petition he received from a law firm, following the ruling of a Court of Appeal in Sokoto State dismissing the appeal challenging the qualification of Zamfara APC candidates for the polls.

The minister has also asked the electoral umpire to postpone the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly polls in Zamfara to allow the ruling party to prepare for the polls.

Dr Agbakoba, however, stated that INEC was an independent institution which cannot take directives from the Federal Government.

He insisted that it was the APC that ought to have made such a request and not the minister, stressing that he is “not the Attorney General of INEC”.

Read the full letter by the former NBA president below;

 

14th February, 2019

Abubakar Malami, SAN

Attorney General of the Federation

Federal Ministry of Justice,

Federal Secretariat, Abuja.

Dear Attorney General,

RE:  REQUEST FOR POSTPONEMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE ELECTIONS

I am shocked by your letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the above subject. You are the Attorney General of the Federation and not the Attorney General of INEC. INEC is an independent institution and cannot take directives from the Federal Government. If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections as indicated in your letter, the proper person to request the postponement is the All Progressive Congress (APC). In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which your request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.

President Mohammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.

It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN