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Debt Recovery: Court Fixes January 18 for Preliminary Objections by Oyo Govt, Governors’ Forum, Others

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, from fixed January 18, 2021, to hear the preliminary objections of the Oyo State government, Incorporated Trustees of Nigerian Governors’ Forum and others to the suit filed against them by the Principal Partner of Femi Kehinde and Co, Hon Femi Kehinde.

The plaintiff had sued Ned Nwoko’s law firm, the Oyo State government, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and five others over the refusal of the law firm to pay 40 per cent of the sum of the N1 billion paid to it by the Oyo State government, through the Incorporated Trustees of Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

He had also asked the court to restrain the Oyo State government, Nigerian Governors’ Forum and three others from making any payment as it relates to professional or consultancy fees in respect to foreign loan recovery.

At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, counsel to the first to fourth defendants, Jephthah C. Ngikonyi (SAN) and other defendants informed the court of the notice of their preliminary objections.

But, the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako halted the adoption of the objections and adjourned till January 18, next year for the hearing of the objections to the suit.

Hon Femi Kehinde had, in a Writ of Summons numbered, FHC/ABJ/CS/212/20, filed through his counsel, Bola Aidi prayed the court to order Ned Nwoko Solicitors to pay him, “The sum of N400 million, being 40 per cent of the N1 billion (1st tranche) paid to the 1st defendant (Ned Nwoko Solicitors) as legal fees for services rendered by same as it relates to Oyo State government for the recovery of foreign debts.”

The Plaintiff also prayed the court for an order compelling the 1st defendant, which is a registered Law firm with the Law Society of England to pay him N20 million, representing 40 per cent of a consent judgment as well as another £159, 098, 00 as expenses incurred for prosecuting an arbitration in a London Court.

He also wants the court to order the 5th to 10th defendants in the suit to pay him 40 per cent of all the subsequent tranches of the professional fees due to the 1st to 4th defendants on the Oyo State foreign debts recovery or deduction from the Local Governments in Oyo State and for the court to order the defendants to pay him N20 million for prosecuting the suit.

The Plaintiff said, in a statement of claim that the 1st defendant engaged his services in 2007 to handle all issues pertaining to Oyo State foreign debt and that the condition for his engagement as an agent to the 1st defendant was dependent on the 1st defendant, being appointed as Solicitors to the Oyo state government to recover its foreign debts within four weeks.

He averred that the conditions, as contained in a retainership letter, as a local Attorney on March 24, 2007, including collation of all information and documentation of the various loans and agreements since 1982, provision of support needed by Ned Nwoko Solicitors, including litigation in any Nigerian court in any matter arising from the proposed contract with Oyo state, among others.

“The retainership agreement states clearly that the Plaintiff will be entitled to 40 per cent of whatever received from the Oyo State Government and that remains the understanding of parties.”

According to the Plaintiff, the Oyo State government enjoyed its services as an agent of Ned Nwoko Solicitors from December 7, 2007, to February 23, 2011, when a total sum of $148, 231, 966.94 million (which was paid in five tranches) was received by the state government.

He said the Oyo State government refused to comply with the terms of the agreement and did not pay Ned Nwoko Solicitors, a situation, he said made the 1st defendant give the Plaintiff the go-ahead to commence arbitration proceedings in London against the Oyo State government.

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