A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has granted reliefs sought by Mr Babajide Odusola, former Managing Director of the Ogun Property Investment Corporation (OPIC), seeking to enforce his fundamental rights.
Justice Peter Odo Lifu granted the reliefs sought by the applicant (Odusola) in an ex-parte application filed and argued by Mr Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN) and Mr Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi, who are counsel to the applicant.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the applicant sought an order of the court restraining the respondents from taking any action against him related to a report by the Ogun assembly either by invitation or by arrest until the court has heard and determined the substantive suit. The matter was adjourned till January 13, 2022, for a hearing of the substantive suit.
What happened in court
At the resumed hearing on Friday, Mr F. E Bolarinwa, Counsel for Ogun State Ministry of Justice told the court that he had issues in filing his processes, he then sought an adjournment to enable him to file a counter affidavit in opposition to the suit.
Justice Lifu noted that the respondents had not shown cause in the matter. He held that an application for adjournment was not unmeritorious.
The court made a declaration that the report of the committee and proceedings of the assembly which it earlier adopted constituted an infringement on Mr Adesolu’s fundamental rights to a fair hearing.
In an affidavit in support of his application, Odusola averred that in October 2020, he had received a letter inviting him to the Ogun state assembly to appear at its Public Account and Anti-Corruption Committee (PAAC) to clarify alleged irregularities in the activities of OPIC.
He said he honoured the invitation but was confronted with an allegation of misappropriation of OPIC funds. According to him, he never received any complaints or charges against him during his tenure as OPIC Managing Director.
He therefore, sought an interim order, directing respondents to maintain the status quo in respect of the decision of the assembly, pending final determination of the originating motion.
He also sought an order restraining the respondents from taking further steps in relation to the subject matter pending the final determination of the suit.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics reported that the Ogun State House of Assembly had ordered the former OPIC boss to return the sum of N40 million which has not been accounted for since 2019. He was given six months to return the money to the state treasury.
Nairametrics also reported that Mr Odusola described the allegation levied against him on financial misappropriation by the State’s House of Assembly as false.
What you should know
While Babajide is the applicant in the suit, Respondents included: Ogun State House of Assembly, the clerk of the House, Inspector-General of Police, Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone II, and Commissioner of Police, Ogun State.
In a suit marked: FHC/L/CS/1273/2021, Mr Adesolu had instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Inspector General of Police and others.
The Chairman of the Committee that allegedly investigated OPIC funds was an interested party, who served together with Odusolu in the previous administration.
On September 21, 2021, during the plenary, the Ogun state assembly adopted the report of its Committee on Anti-Corruption and Public Accounts, which claimed to have investigated the finances of OPIC and huge sums of money that were missing from OPIC accounts.
This was disclosed by the apex bank in a document “Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) Guidelines” by its Development Finance Department, revised in September 2021.
According to the apex bank, the programme evolved from consultations with stakeholders comprising the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, State Governments, agro-processors, commodity associations, financial institutions and smallholder farmers to ramp up agricultural production, boost non-oil exports and diversify the revenue base of Nigeria.
Key highlights of the guidelines
The CBN in line with its developmental functions as enshrined in Section 31 of the CBN Act 2007, established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to create economic linkages between smallholder farmers (SHFs) and reputable companies (anchors) involved in the production and processing of key agricultural commodities.
The core of the Programme is to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bill towards conservation of foreign reserve.
The broad objective of the ABP is to create economic linkages between smallholder farmers and processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and ensuring food price stability.
The CBN stated that it would increase banks’ financing to improve agricultural productivity by creating an ecosystem that drives value chain financing.
The CBN would bear 50% credit risk after satisfactory evidence that every means of loan recovery has been exhausted by the PFI.
The CBN may vary the risk-sharing ratio based on the specific peculiarities/prospects of the Anchor/Project.
For losses arising from the negligence and/or inaction of the PFI in the execution of any project, the PFI shall bear the full risk and financial losses thereof.
The PFI shall foreclose on pledged collateral one year after expiration of the initial facility and the risk-sharing ratio prescribed above shall apply on the amount net in default.
The maximum loan limit for each eligible farmer under the Programme shall be decided based on CBN ratified Economics of Production (EOP) and validated land size. Repayment shall be by produce and/or cash as may be prescribed by the CBN.
The loans granted under the Programme shall be fully repaid within the tenor of the facility.
Where the facility was accessed through a Commodity Association, the leadership of the Association shall be responsible for full repayment of facility granted to its members.
According to the CBN, the revised Guidelines addresses current realities and developments in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, aimed at promoting best practice in the implementation of the Programme.