Paris Club Refund: IMC frowns as FG okays payment of $418m to consultants/contractors

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The Interim Management Committee of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, has frowned at the federal government approval of payment of monies amounting to $418 million to consultants and contractors for the roles they played in the Paris Club refund received by its administration.

The IMC in a suit filed in the Federal High Court dated 1st September 2021 via motion of notice in suit no M/5474/2021 and also Writ of Summon in suit no CV/2185/2021, challenged the FG, Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Justice, DMO, AGF, EFCC and the Chief Registrar of the High Court for their involvement in approving promissory notes of payments in the sum of US$142,028,941.95, US$ 1,219,440.45, US$ 215, 195.36, RIOK Nigeria Ltd, Prince Nwafor Orizu, Barr. Olaitan Bello, respectively.

Recall earlier report revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the payment of the controversial amounts in Paris Club refund-related judgment debts to consultants, without considering the calls for a forensic audit into the claims of the creditors and the Federal Ministry of Finance following such order had also directed the Debt Management Office (DMO) to commence issuance of promissory notes to the creditors, as approved by the order of the president.

The Minister of Finance on the order of the President, is said to have directed the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO) to issue Promissory Notes 12th August, 2021 in favour of the consultants and contractors. The purported amounts claimed by the various consultants are as follow: Ned Nwoko –US$68,658,193.83; Ted Iseghoghi Edwards -$159 million; Riok Nigeria Limited $142,028,941.95, prince Orji Nwafor Orizu US$1,219,440.45, and Olaitan Bello – US$215,195.36 and Panic Alert System Limited and George Uboh – $47,831,920.

However, in the fresh suit filed the ALGON-IMC, asking the court to grant an order to dissuade the Hon. Minister of Finance, the debt management office, the accountant general of the federation and the chief registrar of the high court from issuing, handing over or releasing any promissory note or banking instrument of transfer to the consultants and contractors.

The IMC questioning the basis for the approval of payments, demanded that the contractors should provide proofs of the allegedly executed projects, contracts in any of the 774 local government areas to back up their claims to such enormous amount of monies. It also alleged that the consultants having succeeded in fraudulently obtainment of court judgement in suit No FCT/HC/CV/2129/201, to divert common wealth belonging to the 774 local government areas for themselves their families and cronies alone.

It said: “The IMC cannot sit down and watch constant extortion being perpetrated in the name and with the name of the association, the situation at hand is very germane and requires immediate attention, hence the purpose for this address. The current approval by the president, others to issue promissory notes of payment to the six consultants without due diligence, is fraudulent and has a tarnishing impact on the association as those involved did not execute any of the alleged projects and does not deserve to receive the rights of payment.

“The President should not water down his fight against corruption by not following due process to seek documented evidences/proofs of the projects, contracts allegedly executed by these consultants. Also let us not us not rob peter to pay paul by standing with our hands folded watching these men of greedy stance deprive people in the grassroots level, monies that should be used to enhance and effect development and growth. We heavily frown at the stance of the president approving payments for underperforming self-made consultants, this action if honoured will cause irreparable damage to the third tier of government. It is on this premise that we dare those involved to provide proofs of the projects executed while laying claims to such amounts as mentioned in the order of which a promissory note was issued.

“Every money be it dollar or naira should be channeled to people-oriented projects as the nation is already going through economic challenges and the issuance of Promissory Notes of enormous sums in millions of dollars to private persons, organisations for alleged consultancy/contract work requires not just caution but strict due diligence, particularly when the judgments which gave rise to the payments sought to be enforced are the subject of pending litigation. Matters that are subjudice must not be acted upon in a manner that will foist a situation of complete helplessness on the courts and render their decisions inconsequential.

“Again let me reiterate that the Minister of Finance, the DG of DMO, and the AGF had since been duly served and notified of the pendency of these actions in court, but then it is however very strange and indeed alarming that having been served and made aware of the pendency of the various court cases, the Minister of Finance would readily but in complete disregard of the law direct that Promissory Notes be issued in favour of these consultants. There is however FOUL PLAY, which can only be interpreted by those imvolved!” It added.

The IMC buttressed that custodians and managers of public funds are public trustees and must at all times act in the interest of the public, adding that the interest of all the states and local governments of the federation is involved in this instant case and ought to be protected by the Minister of Finance.

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