The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a suit seeking to stop the Federal Government from securitizing the sum of N22.7 trillion Ways and Means loan support it got from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Justice James Kolawole Omotosho, in a judgement, held that the plaintiffs lacked the legal right to institute the case. He further held that where the plaintiffs had the locus standi to file the suit, they failed to prove the same.

The plaintiffs, Justin Edim and Akinfenwa Akinwunmi, had sued President Bola Tinubu, Federal Government of Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeria and Ministry of Finance as 1st to 4th defendants.


Others in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1286/2023 are Debt Management Office, DMO, National Assembly and Attorney General of the Federation as 5th to 7th defendants respectively.

The plaintiffs, through their counsel, Victor Opatola, said that they initiated the legal action on behalf of themselves and other Nigerian citizens. They specifically asked the court to stop the conversion of the debt to a promissory note or any other promise to pay at a future date or securitization by way of issuance of treasury bills, bonds or other forms of security.

In December 2022, the Federal Government requested the 9th National Assembly for permission to securities the debts they had incurred from the Central Bank over the years.

The plaintiffs, therefore, claimed that the series of loans secured from the Central Bank had amounted to N23.7 trillion and that the federal government was planning to restructure the loans into something that could be traded.

They further stated that government had over the years secured various loans from the Central Bank under the Ways and Means provision of Section 38 of the CBN Act in contravention of relevant laws, which stipulated that the total amount the government could borrow shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s revenue of the government.

They averred that recently, the Ways and Means debt of N22.7 trillion was decided to be converted into bonds (promissory notes), which was contrary to Section 38(3)(b) of the CBN Act.

The plaintiffs accordingly asked the court to declare that the effect of securitizing the Ways and Means debt would adversely affect the plaintiffs and millions of Nigerians, as well as rob them of the true worth of their savings and further drive Nigerians below the poverty line.

“That by securing the Ways and Means Debt, the government will be putting too much money in the money market, which naturally increases liquidity in the Nigerian economy, which penultimately skyrockets inflation in Nigeria.

“That unless the respondents are compelled by an injunction of this honorable court, it will continue to take steps in variance with the law and continue in its efforts to securities the Ways and Means loan, which if completed and bought by Nigerians and investors might become irreversible,” they said.

Delivering the judgement, Justice Omotosho struck out the name of the National Assembly from the suit on the ground that the plaintiffs breached the condition precedence of filing a pre-action notice on the legislature three months before filing the suit.

On whether the plaintiffs had the legal right to have filed the suit, the judge said that though the plaintiffs claimed that they filed the matter on behalf of the masses, he held that the instant case was not a fundamental enforcement rights suit.

He said the claim that the suit was brought on behalf of the public was, therefore, incomprehensible.

The judge then asked whether there was any public forum where the plaintiffs brought the people together or conducted a poll to gather their opinions and views before commencing the action.

He said the plaintiffs had not shown the court how the Ways and Means bill affected their rights.

He said that having failed to show how this affected them personally, they had no right to file on behalf of Nigerians.

“The need to have requisite locus standi is to prevent all kinds of suits. The case is hereby dismissed for lack of locus standi,” he declared.

Justice Omotosho further held that even if the plaintiffs had had locus, the exhibits attached to their court processes were not certified true copies.

According to the judge, the plaintiffs only came with a printout of an online newspaper as evidence before the court.

He said that the only admissible copy of a newspaper printout would have been to certify the photocopy of the same.

“You cannot just print out or buy a newspaper from a newspaper vendor and bring it to court. It must be certified by the National Library by virtue of Section 84 of Evidence Act, 2011. Where a public document is ought to be tendered, only the certified true copy will be admissible,” he said.

The judge, who said that the court cannot rely on downloaded documents as being genuine, said it is either the original copy or the CTC. He restated that a public document must be certified to be admissible before a court.

Justice Omotosho, who said that the suit was full of speculations and rumours, expunged the exhibits from the court file, adding that the court does not rely on speculation.

The judge, consequently, dismissed the suit for lack of locus standi.



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