Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, advised Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, to alternatively explore out-of-court settlement in a suit brought against him over $53 million unpaid legal fee.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Joe Agi, SAN, had on behalf of a team of lawyers, instituted a legal action against the CBN, Minister of Finance and Lintas International Limited over failure to comply with the Garnishee Order of court mandating the payment of $70 million to the beneficiaries.
In the suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1193/2017, the lawyers said the total sum of $70 million was the legal fee due to them that secured the Paris Club Refund.
Agi (Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor) had, on Oct. 16, 2018, obtained a Garnishee Order Nisi, directing the CBN to pay the said sum of $70 million.
However, Emefiele on Nov. 21, 2018, allegedly ignored the order when he paid only $17 million out of the sum ordered by the court to the judgment creditor.
But unsatisfied with the development, the plaintiff returned to the court on behalf of his team and on July 5, 2019, he obtained a Garnishee Order Absolute against CBN of which Emefiele is the Governor and alter ego.
The court had also, on Jan. 23, summoned Emefiele for the second consecutive times to appear before it.
When the matter came up for hearing on Jan. 23, Emefiele was not in court and after Mr Jephthah Njikonye, SAN, counsel to the judgment creditor (Agi) had told the court that Emefiele was served the judgment summon, yet, he neither appeared in court nor send a representative.
Justice Ekwo issued a fresh order summoning the CBN Governor to appear and answer to the issues thereto on the next adjourned date (Feb. 26).
At the resumed sitting on Wednesday, counsel to parties were, however fully represented.
But D.D. Dodo, counsel to Emefiele, prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him study the brief, which he said had just been inherited from the previous counsel.
“I have just been briefed on this matter. I have shared my limitations concerning the matter with my colleagues.
“I am requesting for time to enable me look at the papers for me to be able to advise my client whether or not to proceed with the matter,” he said.
Since his request was not opposed by counsel to the plaintiff, the judge consequently granted the plea and adjourned the matter until March 24 for mention.
Before adjourning the matter, however, Justice Ekwo suggested the need for the respondents to explore out of court settlement process.
“I am not issuing an order. I am only making a suggestion,” he cleared. (NAN)