Attempts by Governor Dapo Abiodun to demote the 75 Obas installed by former Governor Ibikunle Amosun suffered a set back as an Ogun State High Court upheld their appointments as coronet Obas.
At the twilight of his administration, Amosun had upgraded 75 local chiefs known as Baales to coronet Obas.
But, a few weeks after his inauguration, Gov Abiodun set up a committee headed by the Olu and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, to review the appointment, promotion and installation of the Obas.
While submitting its report, the committee recommended that the promotion of the traditional rulers from Baale to Oba should be reversed.
Consequently, Gov Abiodun, in February 2020, announced the demotion of the Obas, as recommended by the committee chaired by Oba Olugbenle.
Not satisfied, the 75 Obas dragged the governor and his government, asking that the court nullify their purported demotion on the basis that Abiodun does not have such powers.
Relying on the provisions of Section 30 Sub–Sections (1) and (2) of the Chiefs Law of Ogun State 2006, the embattled Monarchs argued that “the Executive Council of the Government of Ogun State can only suspend and depose an erring Oba,” saying their demotion was illegal.
Delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Abiodun Akinyemi affirmed the installation, appointment and promotion of the coronet Obas, declaring their demotion as unlawful, null and void.
According to Akinyemi, the traditional rulers were not given fair hearing by the Olugbenle-led committee, adding that the Abiodun “government failed to convey the sack of the traditional rulers to them through the appropriate individual or authority.”
He directed the state government to pay the Obas their entitlements and remunerations from the time of installation, with immediate effect.
Nigeria’s debt stock hits N39.6tn in 11 months
The Nigeria’s total debt stock rose from N32.9tn as of December 2020 to N39.6tn in November 2021.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in her presentation of the 2022 approved budget, disclosed that the government borrowed N6.7tn between January and November 2021, according to a copy of the presentation obtained by our correspondent.
The new borrowing in the period under review consists of N5.1tn domestic debt and N1.6tn. The domestic debt, however, includes borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria, according to the presentation document.
In March 2021, the Debt Management Office had disclosed that the country’s total public debt stock was N32.9tn as of December 2020.
An additional N6.7tn loan means the total public debt stock would be about N39.6tn as of November 2021.
The DMO had disclosed that the country’s total public debt increased to N33.1tn at the end of the first quarter of 2021, from N32.9tn in December 2020, showing an increase of about 200bn.
In Q2 2021, the total debt stock rose by N2.4tn to N35.5tn by June 2021.
The increase continued by N2.5tn to hit N38tn by Q3 2021, which was the last figure provided by the DMO.
However, based on the minister’s presentation, there was an increase of N1.6tn from September to November 2021.
Within the 11-month period, debt servicing gulped N4.2tn which represents 76.2 per cent of the N5.51tn revenue generated during the period.
The minister defended government borrowing and the country’s debt level, insisting the country had a revenue challenge, and not a debt problem, adding that the debt level was still within sustainable limits.
She had said, “This is to restate, that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits. Borrowings are essentially for capital expenditure and human development as specified in Section 41(1)a of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
“Having witnessed two economic recessions we have had to spend our way out of recession, which contributed significantly to the growth in the public debt. “It is unlikely that our recovery from each of the two recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”
However, economic experts, including a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, have countered the minister.
Moghalu had said, “There are many ways through which we can improve Nigeria’s domestic revenue situation without selling the future of our country. As to the argument that Nigeria does not have a debt problem but a revenue problem, that is mere sophistry. If you’re spending 90kobo of every one naira you earn repaying debt, you are insolvent.
“You cannot say that we have a debt-to-GDP ratio that allows you to continue borrowing. No! That is an argument for sustainable economies. You cannot be comparing Nigeria with advanced economies. We are in an economy that is still very basic.
“If you are not earning enough revenue, why are you borrowing? You are just compounding your problem. Why don’t you focus on where to get the revenue from instead of lazily ignoring that problem and just trying to survive with borrowing?
“If an individual was living a life that way, it would be a calamity. That is why Nigeria is in a calamitous situation today economically,” he said.
The World Bank had recently said Nigeria’s debt was vulnerable and costly, adding that the country’s debt was at risk of becoming unsustainable in the event of macro-fiscal shocks.
Kidnappers in military uniform abduct two federal workers on Lagos-Ibadan Road, demand N40million
Two staff of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) have been abducted around the Isara axis of Lagos-Ibadan expressway end of Ogun State.
The victims were said to be on their way back to Lagos from Ibadan before the car in which they were travelling broke down around 6:45am, and while in the process of fixing the car, the gunmen in military camouflage emerged from the bush and marched them away.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Tope Adaramola, confirmed the incident.
Adaramola said the kidnappers had contacted the management demanding N20million each for the victims to regain freedom.
He said the kidnappers used the mobile phone of one of the victims to demand the ransom, adding that the management had equally reported the incident at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Isara.
Adaramola added that those abducted were junior workers of the council, that their salaries were not up to N60,000.
N2.4bn Judgment Debt: Supreme Court reverses self, restores GTBank’s appeal against Innoson Motors
The Supreme Court has set aside its earlier ruling which dismissed Guaranty Trust Bank’s (GTB) appeal against a N2.4 billion judgment in favour of Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited.
The apex court set aside its own decision on Friday, while delivering judgment in an application by GTB seeking the re-listing of the appeal on the grounds that it was wrongly dismissed.
The apex court in reversing itself relied on Order 8 Rules 16 of the Supreme Court’s rules that empowers it to set aside its decision in certain circumstances, like any other court.
Specifically, the five-member panel, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola in a unanimous decision on Friday, held that the apex court erred in its ruling of February 27, 2019, wherein it erroneously dismissed GTB’s appeal with number: SC/694/2014 against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The apex court in the lead judgment written by Justice Tijani Abubakar, but read by Justice Abdu Aboki, claimed that it was misled by its Registry, which failed to promptly bring to the notice of the panel that sat on the case on February 27, 2019, that GTB had already filed its appellant’s brief of argument.
The apex court noted that had the panel that sat on the case on February 27, 2019, notified it of the existence of the appellant’s brief of argument, it would not have given the ruling which dismissed GTB’s appeal on grounds of lack of diligent prosecution.
The apex court justices explained that the court has powers to reverse itself where there was any reason to do so, especially where any of the parties had obtained judgment by fraud, default or deceit; where such a decision is a nullity or where it is obvious that the court was misled into giving a decision.
According to the judgment, the circumstances of the GTB case falls into the category of the rare cases where the Supreme Court could amend or alter its own order on the grounds that the said order or judgment did not present what it intended to record.
“I am convinced that at the material time that the appellant’s appeal was inadvertently dismissed by this court, there was in place, a valid and subsisting brief of argument filed by the applicant.
“It will be unjust to visit the sin of the court’s Registry on an innocent, vigilant, proactive and diligent litigant.
“It is obvious from the material before us, that there were errors committed by the Registry of this court, having failed to bring to the notice of the panel of Justices that sat in chambers on February 27, 2019 that the appellant had indeed filed its brief of argument. This is a case deserving of positive consideration by this court.
“Having gone through all the materials in this application therefore, I am satisfied that the appellant/applicant’s brief of argument was filed before the order of this court made on February 27, 2019 dismissing the applicant’s appeal.
“The order dismissing the appeal was therefore made in error. It ought not to have been made if all materials were disclosed. The application is therefore, meritorious and hereby succeeds,” the apex court held.
He proceeded to set aside the court’s ruling of February 27, 2019 dismissing GTB’s appeal and ordered that the appeal marked: 694/2014 “be relisted to constitute an integral part of the business of this court until its hearing and determination on the merit.”
Other members of the panel were John Okoro and Helen Ogunwumiju.
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