From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday joined a private consultancy firm, Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited as a defendant in the suit instituted by Abia state government against the Federal Government over over Paris Club Refund.
The company was joined as the 5th defendant in the suit which also has the Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation as defendants.
The joinder of the company in the litigation by Justice Inyang Ekwo will provide it with an opportunity to endefend and protect its interest in the matter.
Ziplon Concept Ltd and Abia State government had dragged the Federal Government of Nigeria, AGF, Federal Ministry of Finance, and the Accountant General of the Federation as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/323/2020.
The two plaintiffs – Ziplon Concept and Abia State – are claiming the sum of $238.8m form the four defendants as consultancy fee on over deductions from the Paris Club Refund.
However, Muaritiz Walton Ltd in a motion applied to the court to be made a party in the suit over the consultancy money.
In affidavit in support of motion for joinder, Dr. Maurice Ibe, Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Mauritz Walton Ltd, the firm is the only known consultant to Abia State government on Paris Clud Refund.
“I know as a fact that any other claim, apart from that of the party seeking for joinder, is a farce calculated to deny the party seeking for joinder the fruits of its labour,” he averred.
He said Mauritz Walton acted as consultant to the Abia State government in the recovery of the Paris Club Refund and not the plaintiff, Ziplon Concept Ltd as contained in the originating summons.
Dr. Ibe held that Mauritz Walton acted as consultant to the Abia State government in the recovery of the Paris Club Refund while Ziplon Concept Ltd only acted as consultant to the local government on the same issue.
In his ruling Justice Ekwo dismissed the objection raised by Ziplon and Abia State government, adding Mauritz Walton Ltd has established that it has interest to protect in the matter and therefore deserved to be made a defendant in the interest of justice.
The judge therefore ordered that Mauritz Walton Ltd be made 5th defendant and directed the two plaintiffs to amend their processes to reflect the applicant as the 5th defendant within seven days.
The judge also ordered each defendant to file their respective processes within seven days of service of the amended processes of the plaintiffs.
Justice Ekwo consequently fixed December 2 for hearing.