Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Okonjo-Iwela Appears in court today

The Former Nigeria Coordinating Minister of the Econo­my and Minister of Fi­nance, Dr. Ngozi Oko­jo-Iweala has engaged legal teams to extricate her from the alleged missing N30 trillion judgement obtained against the Federal Government and herself by the Socio-Econom­ic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) pursuant to the Free­dom of Information Act.

A Federal High Court, La­gos had ordered the Feder­al Government and Okonjo-Iweala to provide information on the N30 trillion alleged­ly unaccounted for during her tenure as finance minister.

But Okonjo-Iweala, in her reaction to the judgement, maintained that even though the said judgement was ob­tained during her tenure as minister, the court process­es leading to the verdict were never served her.

She maintained that she was never represented by any legal counsel and had not even read the details of the judge­ment apart from media reports.
In a statement signed by her Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, the former min­ister said that she has not read the judgment and would there­fore defer any comments on it.
“However, from the me­dia reports, the case was insti­tuted in February 2015 but was not served until July 2015 after Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had already ceased to be the Minister of Fi­nance,” Nwabuikwu said.
The former minister main­tained that since the court pa­pers were reportedly served on her when she had left office, she is no longer in a position to give account of the said miss­ing fund.

“By the date the said pa­pers were purportedly served, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was no long­er a public officer and could, therefore, not be the subject of a request for production of any document or information un­der the Freedom of Informa­tion Act,” the statement noted.

“The court processes must have been served on oth­ers because the attention of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was never drawn to the matter in which she appears to have been sued personally. She, therefore, did not engage any lawyer to act for her in the matter.”

She berated SERAP for em­barking on a legal matter against her on the basis of unsubstan­tiated allegations of the former CBN Governor, Prof. Chukwu­ma Soludo.

Okonjo-Iweala said: “The decision of SERAP to anchor its case on a baseless and un­substantiated allegation by for­mer CBN governor, Professor Charles Soludo, that N30 tril­lion--about seven times the to­tal annual budget during the Jonathan administration--is missing, confirms SERAP’s du­bious motives and its role as a tool for politically-motivated actors.

“It is curious that the first time Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is be­ing made aware of a matter filed against her in court is in news reports on the delivery of judg­ment. She has instructed her lawyers to take steps to set aside the judgment as it affects her.”