A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, threatened to grant a request by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) seeking an order to freeze the state’s salary accounts over its inability to pay back an N84 million loan it took six years ago.
In a ruling by the presiding judge of the FHC, Justice Inyang Ekwo, the court gave the Adamawa government until January 11, 2022, to settle the issue with AMCON.
Justice Ekwo, while giving the ruling, said he was mindful to grant a plea by counsel to the state government, Fabaryu Thliza, due to the vast majority of the civil servants who might be affected by the order, especially as Christmas celebration draws near.
“This adjournment is at the instance of the defendant and gracious adjournment to allow them pay the staff for Christmas. This shall be the last adjournment,” the judge warned.
AMCON, in a writ of summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/387/2021, had sued the governor of Adamawa, Umaru Fintiri, and the state Attorney-General as 1st and 2nd defendants over the debt.
Also Joined in the suit were the Commissioner of Health, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Health as 3rd to 5th defendants respectively.
AMCON, through its lawyer, Paul Okache, had alleged that the 5th defendant (Ministry of Health) sometimes in July, 2015, approached Union Bank Plc for an overdraft facility when it was in dire need of financial assistance.
Okache said after several appeals, the Union Bank eventually raised the overdraft facility. He told the court that despite several demands by the bank, the facility and the accrued interest had remained unpaid, with the respondents thereafter, engaging the services of Abbas El-Yakub & Co. to among other things demand payment of the facility.
When the case was first brought before Justice Ekwo on June 24, he had granted AMCON’s ex-parte application seeking an interlocutory order to freeze the respondents/debtors accounts in not less than 17 commercial banks.
But the state government filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, saying that such case should be filed at the state where the cause of action took place.
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