Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has received a response from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) regarding the controversy surrounding the payment of consulting fees totaling $418 million from the Paris Club refund.
According to THEWILL, the governors obtained an order from a federal high court in Abuja in 2021 prohibiting the federal government from taking money out of the accounts of the states in order to pay the disputed debt.
Malami, however, asserted on Thursday that the Governors had no justification for contesting the payments.
Malami reminded the governors that they created the liability whose payment they have also indemnified when he spoke at the Ministerial Media Briefing, which was held by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
According to the AGF, one of the components included in the NGF’s request for a refund was the payment of the consultants the forum had hired.
Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the NGF’s spokesperson, accused Malami of being used by the consultants to siphon off the states’ money in response to the AGF’s comments from Friday.
According to Bello-Barkindo, the Attorney General should focus more on how the government can pay for higher education rather than diverting funds to individuals’ personal accounts.
He added that the NGF and the consultants had not entered into a collective agreement and that the forum had asked the consultants to provide documentation of their work.
The governors’ forum is not required to pay consultants anything, and there is no agreement between the consultants’ and governors’ collective agreements, according to Bello-Barkindo, who questioned the AGF’s concern about private claims to state funds.
The funds from the Paris fund have been used up, and according to consultants and the attorney general, the remaining funds will be taken out of state coffers over the course of 52 or 58 months. That is unprecedented.
The NGF asserts that there is no money owed and that any sums that have been paid contain obvious errors.
“The biggest sacrilege is where they are asking for the money to come from. Because you are powerful, you want the money to be taken from the states and the people of this country and given to you.
Because the state has no motivation to pay, they are using the attorney general of the federation to obtain the funds directly.
“The NGF maintains that there was no consent judgment, contrary to what the attorney general claims.
“Evidence of completed work is what the NGF is requesting. Some of them claimed to have built primary healthcare facilities across the nation, while others claimed to have provided boreholes. These are tangible accomplishments that can be demonstrated.
“Court is hearing this matter. Why are highly placed lawyers afraid of their own platform when the court is the only institution that can definitively determine whether there is a justification for payment or not?