The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Wednesday told the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that his insistence on a $418million claims for consultants from the Paris Club refund was fraudulent and self-serving.
The NGF Chairman, who is also Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said at the end of the Forum meeting in Abuja that the governors resolved to deploy every available constitutional and legal means to pursue the rights of the states against those purported consultancies.
When the states were being paid their Paris Club refunds, Malami told the governors that a total of $418million was deducted from their entitlements to settle various consultants engaged to handle negotiations for the release of the funds.
Despite protests by the governors, the Minister insisted they had no basis to oppose the deductions, since they were already indemnified and conceded for payment to the consultants.
But the NGF Chairman said on Wednesday at the end of the meeting of the governors that they were not aware of any outstanding liability approved by the states in respect of the Paris Club refund.
He restated the position of the governors on the issue that only the court can determine if the states were indeed liable to any consultant.
In a communiqué to read at the end of the meeting, Fayemi said: “Governors extensively reviewed the purported attempts by the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court to secure the approval of the federal executive council to effect illegal payment of a sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancies in respect to the Paris Club refund to state and local governments.
“The Forum set up a committee comprising the chairman, the Governor of Ekiti State, the Vice Chairman, the Governor of Ondo State, the Governor of Plateau State, the Governor of Nasarawa state, and the Governor of Ebonyi State to interface with the committee set up by Mr President to review the matter.
“But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is subjudice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in court.
“We are constrained by the manner in which the Honourable Attorney General has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which Governors had committed themselves to and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that that’s not the case.
“We reject all of the claims that he has made on this issue. And we also insist that states will not give up on insisting that these purported claims are fraudulent and will not stand, as far as governors are concerned.
“And we would take every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancies are fully litigated upon by the highest court in the land.
“If the court now finds the governors and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and states liable, then we will cross that bridge when we get there,” the communique stated.