A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to appear before it on July 19 over a $53 million-judgment debt arising from the Paris Club refund.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who gave the order during the hearing of a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1193/2017, insisted that the court would not hear Emefiele’s motion for stay until he appeared in court.
Justice Ekwo had, on Oct. 20, 2022, ordered the CBN governor to appear in court on Jan. 18 over his alleged refusal to obey the order of the court for the payment of the judgment debt in favour of a legal practitioner, Joe Agi, SAN.
However, on the Jan. 18, proceedings could not go on as scheduled when the matter was called, prompting the court to subsequently adjourned the case till March 20.
Agi had dragged Linas International Ltd, Minister of Finance and CBN to court as 1st to 3rd judgment debtors respectively, following an application for garnishee made by him as judgment creditor in the case.
Upon resumed hearing on Tuesday, Agi’s counsel, Ayodele Arotiowa, informed that on the last adjourned date, the court made an order that Mr Emefiele should appear in court on the next date and that the order had not been obeyed.
Audu Anuga, SAN, who appeared for Emefiele and CBN, reminded that the court did not sit on the last adjourned date.
“There is an intervening circumstance which we have brought to the attention of the court by filing of affidavit of fact,” he said.
The judge then asked when the appeal was filed by Anuga.
“The appeal was filed on the 28th day of October, 2022,” the lawyer responded.
He said besides the appeal, they also filed a motion for stay.Anuga, who said that the appeal had been entered, said that was why they filed affidavit of fact.
Arotiowa said though they had been served with the processes, they had also responded. Anuga told the court that they had pending application to set aside those order nisi.
Justice Ekwo then said that it was because of the order he made that Emefiele should appear in court that prompted them to go on appeal “so that he does not appear in this court.”
“That is exactly what you have done. So, we, the trial court cannot do our job?
“I am not going to hear you on any application until Mr Godwin Emefiele appears in court.
“Therefore I am going to give a date for you to report to the court on the compliance with the order of the court.
“Upon being aware that the motion for stay of execution is a live matter in this court, this court shall not hear that application unless and until Mr Godwin Emefiele who has been ordered to appear in court appears in court,” the judge declared.
He adjourned the matter until July 19 for report.
NAN reports that the dispute stemmed from an alleged $70 million judgment against Linas International Ltd for the lawyer’s (Joe Agi) assistance with the Paris Club refund.
Emefiele was said to have only released $17 million, leaving an unpaid balance of $53 million.
The court had on Jan. 23, 2020, ruled that Emefiele must appear “to be examined on oath, since the date of the said garnishee order absolute, to pay the balance of 53 million dollars now due and payable under the said garnishee order absolute and also show cause why you should not be committed to prison for default in payment of the said sum”.
In October 2022, Agi through his counsel Isaac Ekpa and Chinonso Obasi, filed another application against Linas International, Minister of Finance and the CBN.
He sought for an order directing the Inspector-General of Police to arrest Emefiele and bring him to court alongside his lawyers, Damian Dodo, Audu Anuga, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, and Ginika Ezeoke, Jessica Iyoke, Abdullahi Afolayan, and Olayemi Afolayan.”