As the controversy over deductions from the Paris Club refund by the federal government rages on, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has described the insistence on such deductions by Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, as “curious”.
This is just as Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State declined comment on the issue.
The governor, who was asked to respond to the issues raised by Malami, declined to comment on the grounds that “the case is before the court of law”.
Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, spokesman for the NGF, in a telephone interview with BusinessDay, questioned the rationale behind Malami’s insistence that “the money must be paid”.
Bello-Barkindo wondered why the AGF was insisting on deducting N10m per state for the next 60 months from the fund.
He said although there was an allegation of agreement with only 13 states, the states had all denied knowledge of such agreements.
“Even if deductions must be made, why not restrict it to the 13 states; why involve all the 36 states?” he asked.
Bello-Barkindo denied knowledge of any agreement between the NGF and the said consultants, adding, “We challenge Malami to show such evidence if he has one. There are no such agreements. If he says there is, let him make it public.”
“As we speak, there is no order of mandamus, and what the NGF is also asking for is that the so-called consultants must bring the evidence of the work they have done to deserve such payments. Why is Malami insisting on paying them; let him bring the proofs. One of those paid now has his accounts frozen,” the NGF spokesman said.
According to Bello-Barkindo, one of the so-called consultants is an employee of Association of Local Government who turned himself into a contractor and claimed to have dug boreholes in all the local governments in the country.
“He even went on to engage himself as a contractor and also engaged another lawyer as consultant, which EFCC investigated and described as forgery. As we speak, the consultant has now sued him, requesting for his money.”
He told BusinessDay that another consultant who claimed to have worked for Jonah Jang, the former governor of Plateau State, had also “submitted a claim of $47m to the NGF, for deductions from the Paris Club refunds”.
“He claimed he reviewed judgement for Jang, and is coming to NGF to ask for $47m; what has that got to do with the NGF?” Bello-Barkindo said.