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$418m Paris Club refund: Governors fire back at consultant

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday punctured the comments by Ned Nwoko, a lawyer and business magnate, to justify the payment of fees to the…

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday punctured the comments by Ned Nwoko, a lawyer and business magnate, to justify the payment of fees to the consultants engaged for the Paris Club loan refund.

Director, Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, in a statement, said Nwoko attempted to blur and obfuscate the real facts and legal issues in controversy by dishing out “blatant lies and half-truths.”

Nwoko had on Saturday accused the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, of lying that there was no indemnity signed Abdulaziz Yari-led NGF and that there was a judgment of the Supreme Court against the consultants.

Last Wednesday, the NGF had described the positions of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the controversial ‘$418m Paris Club contractors’ fee as “fraudulent and self-serving” with a resolve to pursue the issue before the law court to a logical conclusion so as to know the next steps to take on the matter.

Bello-Barkindo urged Nwoko and other consultants to end the media war and direct all energies towards defending the appeals.

He said the NGF and its leadership remained focused and determined to diligently pursue all appeals on the judgments on the Paris Club refunds.

The statement partly read: “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 $418.9m from the public treasury of the states and local governments continued on Saturday 20th August 2022.

“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 or persons 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….

“While Mr. Ned Nwoko strenuously tried to single out and justify his own bogus claim of USD$68 million; the total amount which all the consultants working in concert, collectively seek and claim from the states and local governments, albeit unlawfully is USD$418,953,690.59 no matter how long it takes….

“The NGF hereby states unequivocally that it has not at any time been involved in or been in receipt of USD$100m or any other funds from Ned Nwoko to finance elections in any state.”