(i) Front page of “ThisDay” newspaper July 23, 2023 Headline: US $418 Paris club refund: court restrains consultants from transacting with promissory notes”
“A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial Election, Ned Nwoko, from transacting with promissory notes issues with respect to the Paris Club refund.
Nwoko is one of the beneficiaries of the payment of $418million to consultants – a contentious issue between the three tiers of government.
While he claims he is owed $68,658,192.83, Ted Isighohi Edwards, another consultant, is claiming $159,000,000.
Other consultants include Riok Nigeria Limited with $142,028,941.95, Prince Orji Orizu claiming $1,219,440.45, Olaitan Bello with $215,195.36 and Panic Alert Security Systems Limited with $47.821,920.
The payment is said to be for professional services in the Paris Club refund to the state governments.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) had in November 2022, said it resolved to sustain legal action against the disbursement of the $418 million Paris Club refund and promissory notes issued to consultants by the federal government and the Debt Management Office (DMO).
The forum said; ‘It was 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”.
In May, the NGF said the federal government has granted its request to stop further deductions from states’ accounts to meet their Paris Club debt obligations.
Consequently, the federal government filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/896/2023 seeking to stop the consultants from using the promissory notes.
According to The Cable, in a ruling last Thursday, Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, granted an ex parte order restraining the defendants from transacting with 61 promissory notes attached to the application.
“An order is hereby made restraining the defendants whether acting by themselves, their officers, staff, employees, shareholders, servants, assigns, privies, representatives, subsidiaries, agents howsoever called or described from discounting, selling, transferring, redeeming, enforcing, assigning, pledging, securitizing or entering into any transaction howsoever described with the promissory notes issued to the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants, pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs/applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction,” the order reads.
Ekwo also ruled that the defendants be served with all processes in the case at least 24 hours after the court order.
He adjourned the matter to July 28 for hearing the motion on notice.
Aside from the consultants named earlier, others joined in the suit are FSDH Merchant Bank Limited and Gregory Nangor Lar.
The plaintiffs are the federal government, the Attorney-General of the Federation; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Accountant-General of the Federation.”
(ii) Front page “Saturday Vanguard” newspaper July 22, 2023 Headline: “Bandits used money we paid them to buy more arms”
“Former Katsina SSG tells Tinubu, Ribadu why they must not negotiate with them.
· Says only force, sustained onslaught will tame them
· 99% of bandits are local Fulani, not foreign.
“Against the backdrop of call on President Bola Ahmad Tinubu to negotiate with bandits by former Zamfara State Governor, the former Secretary to the Government of Katsina State, SGS, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa has said negotiation with the bandits would be futile as they (bandits) won’t accept the negotiation.
Dr. Inuwa who doubles as the Chairman, Amnesty Programme to end banditry in the state, said it is impossible for the bandits to leave banditry and embrace negotiation because of how kidnapping has become lucrative.
He maintained that no legitimate work can fetch them the kind of money they make from the banditry activities.
He suggested use of force as the way out while calling for concerted efforts on the part of both security agencies and the respective Governors of problem states to bring the bandits down on their kneels.
According to him, “I believe it is very wrong advice for a former governor and senator especially from a state worst hit by the activities of bandits to even contemplate negotiating with the bandits despite the atrocities committed by them in these states and Nigeria as a whole.
“We tried from 2017 to 2019 but it didn’t work because they are not sincere. We were compelled to go into that because we realized the security agencies were not doing what they ought to do.
So we were under serious pressure from the people as they looked up to us to bring the menace to an end. And that was why we settled for the non-kinetic approach. It lasted for brief period before it failed.
“It failed because, one, they were not sincere and second, because they are not organized and don’t have common leaders whom if you negotiate with can serve as their representatives.
They have rivalry and different groups. It is unlike when you are fighting a group on ideology, where they have a common leader, where you negotiate with him and he leads them. It is not that way. Bandits have different groups. How many will you deal with? Dealing with some groups and leaving out others will even create problems. And different groups are emerging daily.
“And also these people are thieves and criminals, if you negotiate with them what will you give them? Will you be giving them salary or what? Then people who are used to getting huge sums of money, especially with this kidnapping activities. So there is nothing legitimate that they can do to get something close to what they are getting through the kidnapping activities.
So it is impossible for this people to willingly accept to leave what they are doing for anything that you promise them. Because you cannot promise them what is close to what they are getting. In 2017 to 2019, we tried it and realized money we gave them was used to buy more arms. President Tinubu and his news NSA, Ribadu should not make the mistake of negotiating with them.
“So, honestly I don’t in any way advice the present leadership of President Tinubu to even contemplate on this issue. What is needed is for all the security agencies to organize a sustained onslaught on these people. If they have to organize, the ground and air operations, it is a matter of few months, they are going to deal with these people. One, they are all locals, 99.9 percent of people involved in these are local Fulani here.
Their parents are known.
“Two, they are not that trained as people may think. And moreover, the area is an area that is accessible. It is not a difficult terrain. We have locals who could penetrate, provide x-ray, intelligence required. But it has to be well coordinated in such a way that it is done simultaneously from all the states and neighbouring country like Niger Republic are ever ready as they have been collaborating with us.
While these things are done, the Governors of the various states too should meet and take common positions on all the issues that will facilitate and help the military operations especially decisions or measures that will undermine the strength of the bandits. For instance, ban on use of motorcycle, buying of fuel in jerrican in those areas among others. It should be a unanimous decision by the states.
“People are under siege in these areas, many of these things are not reported because people are tired of reporting them. But on daily basis, people are been kidnapped, killed, women are raped, many of them have children from the rape, and you have all sorts of trauma.
“Moreover, you cannot stop these people from this thing because it has become part of them. It has become a culture to these people. Because it has been here for a very long time. If you go into history, it is as far back as 1891, banditry was experienced in Zamfara area. Also, during colonial period. The thing is, it is just now that it is only becoming too rampant these.
“It is impossible for the people to willingly accept to do, it has to be by force.
“Moreover, you are talking about amnesty, negotiation, let it be a request from the bandits after you have put them on their knees by the strength of security operations. If they call for these, then you can consider granting it, not government calling them for negotiation. The money they are making now will not make them listen, the former SGS, Dr. Inuwa however stated.”