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$418m Paris Club Refund: Governors Release Names Of Consultants, Amount Requested

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$418m Paris Club Refund: Governors Release Names Of Consultants, Amount Requested

Nigerian governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have unveiled the identities of the six consultants requesting for the payment of controversial $418.954 million Paris Club refund. 

According to the Forum, the breakdown of the $418,953,690.59 showed that: Ned Munir Nwoko demanded for $68,658,192.83; Dr Ted Isighohi Edwards – $159,000,000; Panic Alert Security Systems Limited – $47,831,920; Riok Nigerian Limited – $142,028,941.95; Prince Orji Orizu – $1,219,440.45; and Olaitan Bello demanded for $215,195.36. 

The governors’ position was conveyed in a three-page statement entitled: ‘NGF’s response to Ned Munir Nwoko’s press statement dated August 20, 2022’, issued by NGF’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, who dismissed allegation that the forum demanded for $100 million to finance elections. 

While frowning on the role allegedly played by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to ensure the payment of the $418 million to the consultants, the NGF’s spokesman, argued that the antics being adopted by the consultants was because it is obvious as the consultants are not in a position to restore the funds paid to them back to the states if they lose on appeal. 

He said, “Not surprisingly, the desperate, spurious and futile advocacy mounted and coordinated by the AGF on behalf of the so-called Paris Club consultants to justify the plundering of the humongous sum of $418.9 million from the public treasury of the states and local governments continued on Saturday, August 20, 2022, when Ned Nwoko, in a press statement, attempted to blur and obfuscate the real facts and legal issues in controversy by dishing out blatant lies and half-truths. 

“The facts are and will always remain: whether the claims of the consultants are lawful and justified under our constitution and whether any judgment which is a subject of a pending appeal can be enforced or executed as the consultants now attempt to do? If both questions are answered in the negative, it does not matter if the contracts leading to the claims were entered into by any public official, past or present. 

“No person can agree to blatantly circumvent our constitution and get away with it. Neither is the period when judgments were obtained of consequence in this case. 

“Undoubtedly, the salient facts on the fraud associated with the Paris Club refunds can never be changed by a thousand press statements by the AGF or any of the consultants. As the judgments of the appellate courts, particularly that of the Supreme Court, have begun to expose the creepiness and unlawful nature of the consultants claims, it is not surprising that they are now afflicted by dizzy spells, seriously discomforted and are now driven by desperation to ensure that the plundering and fleecing of the state is quickly completed before the determination of the pending proceedings in the appellate and other courts in order to foist a situation of frustration and helplessness on the states. 

“This is obvious as the consultants are not in a position to restore the funds to the states if they lose on appeal; as it is becoming apparent. 

“It is therefore needless joining issues with Ned Nwoko or indeed any of the consultants. However, it is imperative to debunk patent lies dished out in order to disabuse the minds of the undiscerning public. 

“It is instructive to note that all the claims by the consultants are rooted in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/13 between: Linas International Ltd & 35 ORS VS Federal Government of Nigeria & 3ORS in which Ned Nwoko instituted, and was awarded a bogus 20 percent of the sum of $3,188,078,505.96 from the states and local governments Paris Club refunds. The judgment has been challenged on appeal by the states and NGF in Suit No: CA/ABJ/PRE/ ROEA/CV/327M1/2022: Attorney General of Abia State & 35 ORS VS Linas International Ltd & 239 ORS. 

$418m Paris Club Refund: Governors Release Names Of Consultants, Amount Requested

“The attempt by NED therefore to separate his own claim of $68 million as if it is not related to the claims of other consultants is being clever by half. All the consultants claim to have rendered the same or similar service of helping the states and local governments to recover over-deducted Paris Club refunds by the Federal Government. 

“Their cases therefore rise or fall together. A poison of the part is a poison of the whole. What is unlawful remains unlawful. Its origin is immaterial and the part or role played by all parties separately or collectively at all times is unlawful and cannot be remedied. 

“As it is common with all unholy alliances, it does appear that the romance between the consultants and their determination to fight together under the AGF’s tacit coordination to pull out of the states the sum of $418,953,690.59 may have suffered a crack. This must have led NED to address the press alone and single out his unmerited claim of $68 million as justifiable. 

“This is also coming just on the heel of a similar press briefing by the AGF, a few days ago during which he stoutly defended all the consultants and berated the states for opposing or delaying the prompt payment of the sum claimed. It was thought that the AGF had done a good job of defence for all of them; but Ned’s decision to go solo to make his own case without reference to others suggest that the union of consultants is gradually falling apart. 

“What however Ned did not tell the public is: if all the local governments engaged him directly as claimed and if he acted for the states through his lawyers and the NGF requested that he extends the services to all the States as also claimed, what different service did Ted Iseghohi-Edwards, his collaborator and conspirator (indicted by the EFCC) render for which he is being paid the whooping sum of $159,000,000 also from the Paris Club refund?

“In his desperation to justify his claim, NED peddled untruths that his team was a member of the Federal Government committee constituted to reconcile figures under the Paris Club refunds to the states and local governments. That is patently false. 

“The report of that committee dated May, 2007 shows that only the FMF, OAGF, CBN, DMO and RMFC (secretariat) were members. Private persons who were not privy could not have been included in a committee that was meant to examine purely public financial records. It was this committee that did all the work now claimed by Ned and the other consultants.

“While it is possible that the unlawful scheme hatched by the consultants to feast on public funds may have over the years been executed with the cooperation of enemies of the state without anyone raising an eye brow; the bubble has now burst and the time to account has come.

“It is an irony that Ned and other consultants who flaunt judgments of courts as justification for payment are now uncomfortable and jittery when the same judgments are tested on appeal. An appeal is not a circumvention of a Judgment as Ned may want the public to believe. It is a constitutional right.

“The consultants have no choice but to pursue the various appeals. While Ned has vowed to fully enforce the Judgment in FHC/ABJ/ CS/130/2013; may we remind him that the law does not permit the enforcement of a Judgment that is on appeal. Let him reserve all his vituperations against the NGF chairman and canvass them on appeal as the law may permit him. “Understandably, the Supreme Court has in its Judgment dated 3rd June, 2022 sent a clear signal in Suit No. 337/2018: Riok Nig Limited VS NGF 7 ORS that the claims of the consultants are unequivocally unconstitutional as funds of states and local governments cannot be attached in the federation account in the manner approved and pushed by the AGF.

“Let the consultants therefore have their day in court with the NGF and upon victory; they can seek to be paid. It is absurd to pursue payment in the face of all pending cases. While the consultants are strangely emboldened by those who should oppose the payment and protect public trust; the law is not silent. It upholds the truth at all times.”

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