NGF to keep exploring legal options

The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has resolved to keep exploring all legal options with regards to the disbursement of the $418 million Paris Club refund and promissory notes issued to consultants by the federal government.

This was contained in a communique signed by the NGF chairman, Aminu Tambuwal, and issued at the end of the eighth teleconference meeting on Wednesday.

It was one of the many resolutions made at the meeting.

Controversies had trailed the Paris Club refund to states and local governments in the past months. While the governors had said consultants for the recovery of over deductions from Paris and London clubs debt buyback funds, were owed about $418 million, Ned Nwoko, the lead consultant, said his company was owed $68 million and not $418 million.

The NGF wrote to the federal government and argued that an attempt to restart the deduction process, which is in Courts and for which the Supreme Court has made a pronouncement, would be unconstitutional.

And while President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to suspend plans to begin the deduction of the $418 million Paris Club refund allegedly owed the consultants from the federation account, the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, said the NGF had no basis to reject the proposed deductions of sum from the Paris Club refund..

The Forum further accused Mr Malami of acting in his selfish and personal interest and described as illegal his plan to deduct the sum because the case is still pending in court.

The NGF also constituted a committee comprising its former Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State – to interface with the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to review the matter.

It was the saga that Mr Tambuwal said would be best resolved by the court.

“Regarding the $418 Million Paris Club Refund and promissory notes issued to Consultants by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Forum remains resolute in exploring all legal channels available to it in ensuring that resources belonging to States are not unjustly or illegally paid to a few in the guise of consultancies,” the communique read.

The Forum also resolved to instruct its lawyers to approach the Federal High Court with regards to its advocacy on the proposal that the privatisation of 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) by the federal government.

It also said it is monitoring the flood situation across the country and working with the federal government through the National Economic Council, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, National Emergency Management Agency, Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance and the World Bank to prepare emergency interventions to ameliorate the impact of the flood crisis and sustain food security.

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The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, also briefed the governors on the congestion of custodial centres across the country and the digitalisation of immigration processes.

Mr Tambuwal said the NGF welcomed the minister’s report and committed to working with law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on the recommendations put forward as they relate to individual State jurisdiction.

He however, gave no details of the minister’s report or his recommendations.

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