Buhari with state governors

CSOs knock govs over Paris Club refund

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A coalition of human rights organisations on Thursday decried the 36 state governors’ refusal to pay consultants involved in the $13bn Paris Club refunds as insincere.

According to them, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum’s refusal to pay consultants who assisted in the fund’s recovery was an injustice that Nigerians should reject.

The CSOs said there were “deliberate efforts being made by certain interested parties to obfuscate the facts to direct the narratives to suit their nefarious purposes and interests.”

The PUNCH reported that the $418m Paris Club debt refund fee has been a subject of controversy between the NGF and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in recent weeks.

While the AGF said the governors had no justification to reject the proposed deductions of a consultancy fee from the Paris Club refund, the NGF insisted that the deductions for the payment of the fee were illegal.

The governors said the position of Malami on the matter was “fraudulent and self-serving.”

The leader of the coalition and national co-spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties and civil society organisations, Mark Adebayo, told journalists that Nigerians had been misled by propaganda and deliberate misinformation on the subject matter for so long that such cannot be allowed to continue.

He said the AGF acted in good faith by the realities of the matter and the subsisting rulings and orders of courts of competent jurisdiction on it.

Adebayo said, “It is instructive to reveal that the same NGF complaining about the payment of consultancy fees collected monies appropriated for payment for consultancy services. We discovered that they collected at different times the sums of $86.4m and N19bn.

“They also collected $100m. We found that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been investigating some of these and making forfeitures.

“Secondly, about Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors, the sole consultants in the Paris/London Club refunds, which have been mostly in the eye of the storm, the sum of $418m being associated with Nwoko has never been a claim made by him, as we have now discovered.

“His demand has always been the payment of the outstanding to be paid him on the works done for the states and LGAs on the recovered funds, being the consulting agreement officially entered into with the state governments in recovering the over-deductions from their allocations to the latter by the Federal Government for several years. “

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