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By Caleb Ayansina ABUJA —The Federal Capital Territory High Court has ordered the freezing of the Paris-London Club refund bank accounts of Abia, Cross River, and Delta states. Justice Yusuf Halilu issued the order on August 3, 2017, sequel to an affidavit in support of an ex-parte originating summons sworn to by Dr. Maurice Ibe, Chairman and Managing Director of Mauritz Walton Nigeria Ltd, and filed before the court by his counsel, Alex Marama, Charles Ude, and Kenneth N. Esq. The suit was as a result of the debt owed by the three states, which had engaged a consultancy film to pursue the refund of excess deductions on foreign loans and miscellaneous charges in exchange of certain percent of any fund recovered.
The court in the document available to Vanguard, yesterday, also ordered the banks to set up an escrow account where the funds in the respective bank accounts would be deposited, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
In the affidavit, Ibe averred that there is an urgent need for the court to direct the third defendants (United Bank for Africa Plc and Zenith Bank Nig. Plc) in the case between Mauritz Walton Nigeria Ltd and the three state governments to, in the interim, stop further disbursement of the money already in or accruing to the Paris-London Club refund accounts of the three states.
Abia State government reportedly owes Mauritz Walton Nigeria Ltd $11,325,000 and N1.72 billion; Cross River owes $8,050,000 and N1.2 billion; while Delta is indebted to the tune of $27,274,135 and N3 billion. Abia State government had engaged Mauritz Walton Nigeria Ltd on November 3, 2014, to pursue the refund of excess deductions on foreign loans and miscellaneous charges in exchange of 30 percent of any fund recovered.
Similarly, Cross River State government engaged the same consultancy firm on the same date for the same purpose in exchange of 20 per cent of any fund recovered. Delta State government also engaged the services of Mauritz Walton Nigeria Ltd in exchange of 30 per cent of any fund recovered. Justice Halilu adjourned the suit till September 7, 2017 for hearing. Reacting to the development, Delta State government said it was yet to get details of the judgment.
Similarly, Abia State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Obinna Oriaku, said last night that the state would appeal the judgment. Cross Rivers State government could not be reached as calls pulled through to the phone of the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr. Christian Ita, remained unanswered at press time.
• Source: Vanguard