Wednesday , March 22 2023
Ngozi Okonji-Iweala

You must account for missing N30tn, Court tells Okonjo-Iweala, FG

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos in a landmark judgment has ordered former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government to “provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.”

The judgment was delivered last week by Hon Justice Ibrahim Buba following a Freedom of Information suit number FHC/L/CS/196/2015 brought by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

SERAP’s suit followed revelations by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least N30 trillion “has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.”

Justice Buba said, “Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested for. The Court has gone through the application and agrees that SERAP’s application has merits and the argument is not opposed. SERAP’s application is granted as prayed.”

The Court agreed with the arguments by SERAP deputy director Olukayode Majekodunmi that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government “should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate her denial within 7 days of receipt of the letter from SERAP if she considers that the request should be denied.”

The judgment by Justice Buba reads in part: “Preliminary objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is misconceived, the court upholds the arguments by SERAP for the reasons stated herein.”

“SERAP commenced this proceeding by way of Originating Summons dated 23 February 2015 and filed 25 February 2015. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government filed a Memorandum of Conditional Appearance, a Notice of Preliminary Objection and written address, all undated but filed on 29 September 2015.”

“The preliminary objection is on the following grounds: that SERAP did not obtain the mandatory leave of the Federal High Court to issue and serve the Originating Summons and other processes outside Lagos State; that there is no mandatory endorsement on the Originating Summons that it is to be served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in Abuja and outside jurisdiction of this Court.”

“The only issue for determination is whether Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be heard on their preliminary objection considering the totality of the circumstances of this case.”

“He who wants equity must do equity. This suit was filed on 25 February 2015 and from the record of the court was served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government on 3rd July, 2015. It took about 3 months for them to come up with technical response to the simple request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.”

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have therefore been caught by Order 29 of the Rules of this Court, which requires that an application shall be made within 21 days after service on the Defendants of the originating summons.”

“If Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government want to raise issues about service, the law does not permit of demurer. The proper route for them should have been to join issues with the originating summons and also file their objections. In the present case by SERAP, the Notice of Preliminary Objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is incurably defective for not conforming to order 29 of the Rules of this Court.”

“The process adopted by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in this suit is to come by way of demurer. This process has long been abolished by the Rules of this Court. By Order 16 Rule 1 of the Rules of this Court, no demurer shall be allowed and rule 2 provides that a party shall be entitled to pursue by his pleadings any point of law and any point of law so raised shall be disposed by the judge who tries the cause at or after trial.”

“The implication of this clear provision of the rule of court is that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government must join issues with SERAP on the originating summons no matter how flimsy, instead of looking for a technical way out. This technical way out has failed.”

“The concept of demurer as presently raised by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is no longer known to law especially the Federal High Court of Nigeria. It is the position of the law that the application of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should fail. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government, having failed to file Counter Affidavit to SERAP’s suit, are deemed to have forfeited that option of filing anything again.”

“Having shown why the Application by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be dismissed for failing to join issues with SERAP, the originating process must be moved on the merits.”

“On the issue of failure to obtain pre-requisite consent/leave of Court to issue and serve the originating summons on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government outside of jurisdiction, Order 6 Rule 31 states that ‘in this Order out of jurisdiction means out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’”

“It is also necessary to refer to sections 97 and 99 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act. The provisions apply to the validity of the service and have nothing to do with the validity of the originating process. On the strength of this clear provision, which Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government did not deny and incapable of denying at this point, their objection is dismissed as the validity of the process is not affected in any way.”

“The main issue in this Court’s view bothers on the legal binding obligation imposed on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act access to a record of information requested for. In the case at hand, SERAP through its letter of 2 February 2015, Exhibit A, sought the information relating to the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last 4 years of the Administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Exhibit A has been received by them, and Exhibit B is the acknowledgement of receipt of Exhibit A.”

“However Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have since the receipt of the request letter failed, refused and or neglected to provide SERAP with the information it requested for within their custody. They should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate their denial within 7 days of receipt of the application from SERAP if it considers that the application should be denied.”

It would be recalled that SERAP in February 2015 dragged Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to court over “failure to provide information about spending of the alleged missing N30tn, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government in the past four years.”

SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said: “This judgment shows the important role that Nigerian courts can play in the efforts to promote transparency in government and combat corruption and the impunity of perpetrators. It also confirms that high-ranking government officials can no longer escape accountability for their action while in office. We urge Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to cooperate with the authorities in the efforts to ensure the full and effective enforcement of the judgment.”

Mr Soludo had earlier reportedly asked Mrs Okonjo-Iweala: “How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?) How many trillions (in actual fact) have been ‘lost’ through Customs duty waivers over the last four years? Can you tell Nigerians why the price of diesel has still not come down despite the crash in global crude oil prices, and how much is being appropriated by friends in the process?”

Olukayode Majekodunmi
SERAP Deputy Director
Lagos, Nigeria
Twitter: @SERAPNigeria

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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  1. You will soon be identified and charged with defamation and libelous crimes.

  2. Ngozi iweala must account for nigerian looted fund in her custody in the clueless govt of jonathan,gone are the days of impunity and lawless financial misappropriation and impropriety in our land again.

    • But the central bank governor have no case to answer, Ngozi is a world citizen, u thought she is metu, she will disgrace all of u in court, just watch and see.

    • Benson,ur reaction to the prologue shows u are all rhe birds of sane feathers magestically flock in corruption together, very soon the long arms of Ibrahim magu will catch up with all of u. Fuckey corrupt elements.

    • Nigeria and Nigerians are in indeed funny people, who eats their cake and would want not only to have it back , but have it bigger than it was. The budget which is based on expected revenue, that usually never gets exceeded, was never above N5trillion through out GEJ tenure . That will be N20 Trillion for 4years and N25Trillion for 5years. Salaries and operational cost were paid, projects were executed, yet N30Trillion is missing and unaccounted for. What a country, what a people. Nigerians has really lost it to this stupid BUHRARISM religion, and may God help up us

    • Uncle, I’m really disappointed in you not only you but majority of my fellow yorubas. Why? What is wrong with these fellows. Why we allowed Hausa to brainwashed us with the leave of our eduction? I weep for Yoruba. The way we reasons it’s gives me a lot concerns

    • Debo! I,m surprised u talked like this,our fellow southerners frm other two geopolitical zones in the southern protectorate had always followed the north right from independence to worked against leaders frm southwest.let me remained u,zik allied with NPC OF tafawa balawa/hammodu bello in 1959 against AWOLOWO OF AG.IN 1979 SHAGARI/alex ekueme &the same in 1983.this happened bcos they boasted they wanted to be the most dominant tribe in nigeria but AWOLOWO immediately took an exception for that by introducing effective free education as the premier in the then,old western region.and now is the TIME OF YORUBAS to avenge their past did which made us voted BUHARI last time.the lost of many life in the NORTHEAST due to boko haram attack which the clueless jonathan treated with levity.OWE YORUBA SO PE;IKU TOPA OJUGBA ENI; OWE NLA LOPA FUN NI O.The killing was really affecting our people residing in that part of the country,and the only forseen solution to such problem was to vote out GEJ.u know as yorubas we see ahead of time.

    • Ethnic chauvinist, shame shame shame.

    • David,u know inside urself that all what i said is nothing but the plain truth except u prefer to be subjective and bias.

  3. SKV ; lie lie muhammad don come again with native lie na wa for Apc.

  4. @ so truly N30 trillion is missing or lost better yet mismanaged by Jonathan’s administration under her watch very interesting more drama will be unfolding as the days goes by

  5. I don’t trust this bloger, but if this info happens to be true, then okonjo, Allison and Patience should occupy a space in the Guinness book of records.

  6. We must get rid of Corruption

  7. They should remove immunity from state government

  8. Why I love APC govt is d way they mention figure wth reckless abandon. Anyway, in due time, auntu NGOO will answer them.

  9. If President Buhari has not “achieved “anything yet the mess he has dug out from the past leaders in Goodluck Govt. Is already an achievent.

  10. APC government are full of lies

  11. Whats ur biz over this?

  12. I don’t think that woman touch Nigeria money she is the good minister in Jonathan regime

  13. ebube 30 trillion this bloggers, gej has not been our presido since 1972 ohh, hahaha 30 trillion are u ok, hmmm

  14. Story for the Gods…… U think she is FFK or Metuh, go and touch her…… Stupid idiots!

  15. Must people always believe what comes from dis blogger

  16. Some yoruba brethrens of ours could be very ingeniously funny sometime. True, knowledge or a pretend of it, is limited, imaginations (wisdom) is what gives a man a broader view of the world!

  17. Fictitious figure and fools are reacting to it. 30tn missing was figment of imagination of charlatans, desperados, ciphers and nonentities. Ngozi has no case to answer.

  18. Account for which money? You people still believe the lies being told by APC government that the foundation is lies. Apc government is confused and they are always looking for people to accuse of Stealing public fund.

  19. This is another APC fundamental and fantastic lies

  20. I’m expecting greater figure, because after trillion what next? FG with their fake loot

  21. Stupit woman ,she is igbo ewu

  22. If Apc does not know which way forward in nigeria govt, let them resign. A lot of confusion everyday. What do they think governance means. Always account for this and that.
    Begin to manage yourself don’t prove yourself stupid b4 intn’l community. Its becoming too much.
    Pl hire technocrats into economy and sensitve areas not politicians, thats why the too much complaints.

  23. Was she to account for the said amount since 1999 or how? Where do they get such an outrageous amount that was misappropriated? What was the total sum of the whole budget since 2011-2015 as finance minister? Do they just think a trillion is #1 or $1.Does is really mean that if you want to crucify or nail somebody because is an enemy/opposition which should not know what to say again?#30 trillion? Habah the petitioner needs to be critically examined.

  24. N30tri is 5 years of Buhari budget. Hahah hahahahaha hahaha. Stolen in 4 years. Can one steal more than the budget of a nation? Liars in government.

  25. Abeg pls I have been meaning to ask, is it MONOPOLY MONEY OR REAL MONEY?

  26. If not for these senseless rulers, Nigeria will have been like China or Japan.

  27. i know she mate have forgotten when she was dance chop my money

  28. APC have lost all sense of morality, sincerity and focus…….hence, must come up with fictitious lies, outragious, stupendous, and idiotic sum for their fantastically teaming deluded, credulous and gullible supporters!!!

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