By Mike Ozekhome
Recently,a British court ordered the seizure of Nigeria’s foreign assets to satisfy a judgement debt.This sum is surely over N3.2 trillion naira.This is an order,which,if carried out,will simply cripple Nigeria,whose entire 2019 budget for the whole country which was signed into law only in June is N8.92 trillion only.
The current foreign reserve of Nigeria is about a mere $47.62 billion,with China having the highest foreign reserves in the world,to the tune of $3.6 trillion.This is distantly followed by Japan $1.323); Switzerland ($804.323 billion);Saudi Arabia ($487.259 billion),Taiwan,Russia,India ($430.572 billion);Hong Kong,South Korea,Brazil,Singapore,Thailand,Mexico,UK ($164.209 billion).
The United States of America comes a very distant 18th in the world,with $125.725 billion in foreign reserves.The best option thus open to the federal government to halt the looming disaster of attaching her foreign assets to the tune of $9 billion is to immediately appeal the judgement and ask the court for stay of execution.
To allow execution of the judgement will plunge Nigeria’s already battered, pilfered and mismanaged economy into irreversible doldrums and recession of unimaginable proportions.
No one should take Lai Mohammed serious when he boastfully asserted that Nigeria will not surrender any of her foreign assets.
Really? Did I hear him say “surrender”.Lai easily and shockingly forgets that UK is not Nigeria where court judgement orders are treated with disdain, levity, derision and violated with utmost impunity.
The judgement creditors will not seek Nigeria’s permission to go after her foreign assets.They will not politely ask Nigeria to “surrender” her assets.No.They will simply use the available, tested and trusted legal option of garnishee proceedings, attach and fiefe all available and known Nigerian bank accounts, assets, monies ,properties, etc, wherever they find them in the UK and in any part of the world.
It is not a matter given to puerile lachrymal effusion, chest beating, adventurous swash buckling and grandstanding.It a matter of cold law and facts.Let the federal government hire experienced legal hands in the UK immediately to stem this impending disaster that will eclipse all of us,without exception.
CHIEF MIKE OZEKHOME,SAN,OFR,FCIARB,Ph.D.