Paris Club Refund: Delta State vs Mauritz Walton, Judge Directs Reassignment of Casefile

A Federal Capital Territory High Court Judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, Monday, directed that the case file involving the Delta State government and Mauritz Walton Nig. Ltd over alleged indebtedness to the latter, be returned to the Chief Judge of the FCT for reassignment to another Judge.
The Judge gave the order while ruling in application brought before the court by counsel to the Delta State, Alex Izinyon following August 23 ruling of the court which assumed jurisdiction of the case despite Delta State submission that the court has no territorial jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The vacation judge had ruled that the FCT High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter, noting that, “The contract awarded Mauritz Watton Nigeria Limited was meant to be carried out in Abuja. It is not out of place to say FCT High Court has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.”
The judge also vacated his early interim order freezing the sum of $27.2m and a further N3bn belonging to the Delta State government lodged with Zenith Bank Plc and adjourned the matter till August 28 for hearing of the substantive suit.
Mauritz Watton Nigeria Limited had dragged the Delta State government, the state Attorney-General and Zenith Bank Plc before the court seeking the attachment of the said amount as a result of the failure of the state government to pay the applicant 30 per cent of the state’s Paris Club refund by the Federal Government being consultancy charge for the services it rendered to the state government in pursuing the refund on behalf of the government.
On resumption of the case on Monday, counsel for the first and second defendants, Dr Izinyon informed the court that his clients had filed a notice of appeal against the ruling.
He added that the defendants had also filed an application before the court notifying it of the notice of appeal, arguing that in view of this, the court ought to stay further action in the matter pending the hearing of the appeal.
The Senior Advocate told the court that he was appearing before the court in protest, saying that the matter was a regular case which ought not to be heard during vacation.
According to Izinyon, “When this matter first came up, it was adjourned till September 7 for hearing. The first and second defendants filed an application for the matter to be heard during vacation, which was consented to by the complainant/applicant.”
He stated that following last week ruling of the court assuming jurisdiction in the matter, there was no further application brought before the court by the applicant regarding urgency of the case to warrant its being heard during vacation.
Citing judicial authorities on this, Izinyon informed that the Delta State government was not giving its consent for the matter to continue during vacation, asking that, “what is the urgency in hearing this matter?”
He further stated that the defendant was a state government and it was not running away, adding that there was no urgency in the two motions the applicant filed to warrant hearing them during vacation.
Responding on whether there was any urgency to warrant hearing the case during vacation, the counsel for the applicant, Alex Marama, stated that the court had ruled last week that the matter should come up on August 28 for hearing.
He informed the court that when it gave the interim order attaching the state government’s money with Zenith Bank on August 1, the government went ahead to withdraw over N400m on August 4, saying this was in contempt of the order of the court.
Ruling on this, Justice Halilu stated that it was elementary in law that once there was an appeal, all actions in such matter stay, declaring that, “on the basis of this, the court stays all action on this matter.”
He thus directed that the case file be returned to the FCT Chief Judge for reassignment after vacation.

Author: News Editor

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