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. In a 19-paragraph affidavit Aja Nwani Aja deposed to, the plaintiffs said that the defendant swore to uphold the constitution of Nigeria and to discharge his duties in accordance with the constitution and the law. That by the tenets of constitutional democracy, and rule of law, the defendant has a sacred duty to uphold the provisions of the law. That on July 30, 2007, the defendants’s predecessor, Umar Musa Yar’adua signed into law the Fiscal Responsibility Act. That as at the time the date the fiscal responsibility act was signed into law, the defendant was the vice president of Nigeria. That the fiscal responsibility act was enacted to provide prudence and enhance probity in fiscal matter That pursuant to the provision of the act, the president was supposed to set overall limits for the amounts of consolidated debt of the 3 tiers of government in Nigeria not later than 90 days from the commencement of the act. That late president Umaru Musa Yar’adua did not set the overall limits as provided for the law. That the defendant had 90 days from the date of his swearing in on May 29, 2011 to set the overall limits as stipulated by law That I know for a fact that the defendant has not complied with the provision of the act in this respect That the House of Representatives, on March 27, 2012, passed a motion urging Jonathan to implement section 42 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. No date has been set to commence hearing of the matter.
Source; Make we yan