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Lawyers Sue Jonathan Over $44bn Debt

Lawyers Sue Jonathan Over $44bn Debt

Five Abuja based lawyers have dragged President Goodluck Jonathan before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over Nigeria’s increasing debt profile of $44 billion.

They also slammed his failure to set limit to the amount of consolidated debt of the federal, state and local governments since he was sworn-in into office.

The plaintiffs, Aja Nwani Aja, Lawrence Ogbonna Ukpai, Kingsley Osaigbovo Obue, Adaobi Chioma Peace, Best Owie and Abdulmumuni Mohammed Tahir, listed the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a defendant.

Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke at a briefing on the 2012 budget in Abuja on April 11, 2012 put the nation’s total debt stock at $44 billion; giving the breakdown as $5.9 billion external and N5.6 trillion domestic.

She stated that although the nation’s external debt profile was not bad as to cause panic, the rising domestic debt portfolio was getting uncomfortable.

But the lawyers in their suit averred that by virtue of section 42 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and pursuant to the provisions of item 7 and 50 of part 1 of the 2nd Schedule to the constitution, President Jonathan is mandated to, within 90 days from May 29, 2011,  set overall limits for the amounts of consolidated debts for the three tier governments.

They maintained that the House of Representatives on March 27, 2012 had passed a motion urging Jonathan to implement section 42 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Consequently, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare that Jonathan was in breach of the oath of office to discharge his duties as President in accordance with the 1999 constitution and the laws of Nigeria.

The lawyers also asked the court to hold that Jonathan is duty bound to comply with the provision of the said laws of the country and therefore be compelled by the court to comply with laws of the land in the discharge of his duties.

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