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The clash of interest that had recently taken centre stage between State governors in Nigeria and the Federal Government over deductions made in respect of the Paris Club Debt Refunds may have taken a fresh twist as the Nigeria Governors Forum on Thursday berated the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami over recent comments credited to him regarding the $418million Paris debt refunds.
Rising from a meeting where they deliberated on the matter at the Presidential Villa Abuja, the Governors accused Malami of carrying out the deductions from the funds belong to the states to settle the consultancy fees, from a point of personal interest, a development they were ready to fight in the law court.
This position was made public by the Chairman of the NGF, who doubles as Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi. Reading out the communique he went on to accuse Malami of selfishness and self-serving agenda.
Recall that Malami, who featured at the weekly briefings coordinated by the Presidential Media Team, had stated that there was no basis for agitation by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) concerning deductions from the Paris Club refund paid to the consultants they hired.
Malami had also described the governors’ action as akin to crying over spilled milk.
While reacting to the Paris fund controversy, the AGF reminded the governors that they created the liability whose payment, he said, they have also indemnified.
In addressing the controversy over deductions made from the refund, the Minister explained that when the NGF made a request for the refund, one of the components was the settlement of the consultants whose services were engaged by the Governors’ Forum.
Malami went down memory lane, recalling when the Paris Club refund was paid to the States, noting that the governors initially made part payment to the consultants, but explained that the governors later decided to stop payment while asking for an out of court settlement.
According to the AGF, the development then culminated in an appeal in the form of a request to the President to aid to facilitate the payment to the consultants, a request he said was consequently transmitted to the Office of the AGF for legal advice.
He explained that after subjecting the request to critical checks, it was discovered that there was no element of fraud involved.
However, in the NGF’s reaction, Fayemi who read the outcome of the meeting as contained in the communique 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 legislative council to effect illegal payment of a sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancy in respect to the Paris Club refund, to state and local governments.