Ganduje challenges court jurisdiction to hear suit against N300bn loan for light rail
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
The Kano State government and the State House of Assembly have challenged a Federal high court sitting in Kano to hear a case filed against the proposed N300 billion loan from China Exim Bank.
The Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA), a non-governmental organisation is challenging Governor Umar Ganduje’s administration 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, Ahmad Lawan and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Others are the Debt Management Office and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Although the Senate President, China Embassy did not appear before Justice Sa’adatu Ibrahim Mark, the court had granted an exparte order application filed by CAJA to compel all parties to stay action till the determination of the substantive suit.
CAJA has criticized the decision of the Kano State government to obtain a $1.85 million equivalent credit facility from China EXIM, projected to execute the mono-rail capital project, asking the court to halt the process.
The plaintiff also requested the court to compel respondents’ parties to reject the Kano State government’s planned loan.
Justice Mark had granted CAJA’s motion on exparte order directing all parties to maintain status-quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive applications on the matter.
Appearing before the court on Thursday, counsel representing the plaintiff, Bashir Yusuf Mohammad asked the court to determine whether or not the Kano 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 a 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.
But in a counter-argument, Counsel to the Kano State Government and Kano State Assembly, (first and second defendants), Barr. M.N Duru asked the court to dismiss the substantive application for lack of merit.
Barr. Duru who filed a fresh application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter maintained the plaintiff did not have the locus standing to stop government policies bordering on the developmental growth of the state.
“We have raised issues of jurisdiction because we don’t think the court has the locus standi to stop the Kano state government from building any project. In essence, we are saying the plaintiff cannot come to the federal high court to stop the government. Who are they representing? Of course, they can’t be speaking for the entire Kano people”.
Barr. Bashir, in spite of that, insisted that the plaintiff speaks for a majority of Kano people who believe the project is a white elephant cause that will never earn the state benefit.
Justice Mark adjourned the case till 16th March 2021 for ruling on the application of jurisdiction and other hearing on the substantive suit.
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