Ganduje Challenges Court Jurisdiction on Suit against N300bn Loan

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Abdullahi-Ganduje

By Ibrahim Shuaibu

The Kano State Government and the state House of Assembly are challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Kano to hear a case filed against the proposed N300 billion loan from China Exim Bank.

A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA), is challenging the state Governor, Dr. Abdullah Umar Ganduje’s government from collecting the loan, which they considered a white elephant project.

Also joined in the suit are China EXIM Bank, China Embassy in Nigeria, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Although, Senate president and China Embassy did not appear before Justice Sa’adatu Ibrahim, the court had granted an ex parte order application filed by CAJA to compel all parties to stay action till the determination of substantive suit.

CAJA has criticised the decision of the state government to obtain the $1.85 million equivalent credit facility from China EXIM Bank, projected to execute the monorail capital project in the state, asking the court to halt the process.

The plaintiff also requested the court to compel respondents’ parties to reject the state government planned loan. The Justice had granted CAJA’s motion on ex parte order directing all parties to maintain status-quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive applications on the matter.

Appearing before the court yesterday, counsel representing the plaintiff, Bashir Yusuf Mohammad, asked the court to determine whether or not the state government possessed the power and authority to obtain N300 billion, and whether or not due process was followed for the loan to be duly granted.

“For any external borrowing by the state government, there is a guideline that must be followed. We are putting it before the court to interpret and determine whether the N300 billion can be obtained from China EXIM Bank,” the group said.

In a counter argument, counsel to the Kano State Government and the state Assembly (first and second defendants), M.N Duru, asked the court to dismiss the substantive application for lack of merit.

Duru, who filed a fresh application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, maintained that the plaintiff did not have the locus standi to stop government policies bordering on developmental growth of the state.

According to him, “We have raised issues of jurisdiction because we don’t think the court has the locus standi to stop the state government from building any project. In essence, we are saying the plaintiff cannot come to federal high court to stop the state government. Who are they representing? Of course they can’t be speaking for the Kano people.”

But Bashir, however, insisted that the plaintiff is speaking for the majority of the Kano people who believe the project is a white elephant project that will never earn the state benefit.

However, Justice Saadatu adjourned the case till March 16, 2021, for ruling on application of jurisdiction and another hearing on substantive application.