Sunday, 22 May 2016

Okonjo Iweala and others ordered to account for 30Trillion Naira

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered former Minister of
Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Goodluck Jonathan led
administration to account for N30 trillion said to have been missing
or unaccounted for while they were in government.
Justice Ibrahim Buba had given the order in a Freedom of Information
suit number FHC/L/CS/196/2015 filed by Socio-Economic Rights and
Accountability Project (SERAP).
SERAP's filed the suit following 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."
SERAP had approached the court to order the former Minister and the
Federal government to provide it with information on the said N30
trillion.
Delivering judgement in the suit last week, 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 judgment by 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 3 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."

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