The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital has set aside the judgement of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which had awarded over N30 billion against Ebonyi State government and a garnishee order.
The Federal High Court headed by Justice S.D. Pam had on 15th July, 2022, delivered judgement against Ebonyi State government in a suit brought to it by Andrew Bishopton Limited and two other claimants over a failed /discontinued contract for the recovery of excess deductions from Paris Club loan.
Andrew Bishopton Ltd through Mrs Jackie Ikeotuonye and others had approached the lower court asking for the sum of N30billion and other ancillary claims against the state government as irreparable damages for failure to pay a 25 percent commission on the failed contract, which the federal high court granted.
The Appeal Court upturned the judgement for lack of jurisdiction of the court, as well as its lack of merit.
The Appeal Court judgement is sequel to an appeal filed by Ebonyi State Government and the State Attorney General being Appellants in a suit marked: Appeal No: CA/PH/321/2022, challenging the judgement of the lower court on the grounds of improper determination of the jurisdiction of the trial court, the facts of the case and circumstances surrounding the suit.
In his submission, counsel to the appellants, referring to section 251(1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, and the Order 2 rule 2 of the Federal High Court Civil Rule 2019, submitted that the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt had no jurisdiction to handle the matter.
He contended that the facts before the Court were hotly contested by the parties, asserting that the seriousness of the conflict was one that documents could resolve.
The appellants counsel also submitted that the evidence before the trial court showed that the 1st respondent never recovered any money for the appellants as shown in the available exhibits.
In a ruling on the suit delivered by Justices Gabriel O. Kolawole, Olabode A. Adegbehingbe and Abul – Azeez Waziri, on the 3rd day of April, 2023, the Court of Appeal unanimously resolved all the issues in favour of the appellants which is Ebonyi State government and the state attorney- general.
The lead judge, Justice Waziri therefore submitted: “With the resolution of the four issues donated by the appellants in their favour, the destiny of this appeal is obvious.
“The appeal is allowed, and the judgement of the trial court is hereby set aside for lack of jurisdiction, same therefore is struck out. Parties are to bear their respective costs for prosecuting and defending the appeal.”