Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday advised Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, to alternatively explore out-of-court settlement in a suit brought against him over $53 million unpaid legal fee.
The News agency of Nigeria recalls that 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 $70 million was the legal fee due to them that secured the Paris Club Refund.
Agi (Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor) had on October 16, 2018 obtained a Garnishee Order Nisi directing the CBN to pay the said sum of $70 million.
However, Emefiele on November 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 January 23 summoned Emefiele for the second time to appear before it.
When the matter came up for hearing on January 23, Emefiele was not in court and after 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 sent 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 (February 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.
Dodo said: “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 advice my client whether or not to proceed with the matter.”
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, Ekwo suggested the need for the respondents to explore out of court settlement process.
He said: “I am not issuing an order.
“I am only making a suggestion.”