New details on AGF Malami’s dispute with governors

More information has emerged about the dispute between the Minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) over the $418m Paris Club refund.  

What’s the latest on it? 

The Lead Consultant for the recovery of over deductions in the Paris club debts, Ned Nwoko, says the total money being owed his firm – Linas International – is only $68m, instead of the $418m being reported. The NGF chairman, Ekiti state’s governor Kayode Fayemi, had last week said that the AGF, Malami – for whatever reasons that are still unknown – was trying to force payment of $418m from the 36 state governments and local governments in the country, as payment to some Consultants involved in the Paris Club refund. The payment, which the NGF insists it does not owe, got in the news when Malami said in a presidential media chat earlier that the governors were the ones who hired the consultants. 

What’s the origin of the whole thing? 

The spokesperson for the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Vanguard reports, said the dispute began when some Consultants approached some state governors to offer their services in the recovery of over-deductions on Paris Club debts. According to Bello-Barkindo, the NGF, at the time, decided that every contractor or consultant involved in the process would be paid according to their effort and that everything was settled by the end of 2018. But later, some returned to ask for a balance and others claimed they had not been paid at all, claims which the NGF rejected. 

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What’s the reason for the rejection? 

The NGF, according to its spokesperson, said it couldn’t find justification for the demands. Besides, members of the Forum at the time the process began are no longer in office. “The Governors’ Forum’s new leadership decided that if you think you have any money left with us, we want you to prove what you have done. Now, if you said you constructed boreholes, bring the evidence of those boreholes around the country”, Bello-Barkindo said. Explaining the NGF’s suspicion about AGF Malami’s one-sided involvement, Bello-Barkindo said President Mohammadu Buhari had recently ordered that the deduction of the payment be halted until the court case on it is concluded. Yet, Malami seems to be disregarding the president’s order. 

What’s the point of this quarrel when the issue is already in court? 

The NGF argues that the court case will most likely go its way, and that’s why the consultants and the AGF are trying to force the payments before the outcome of the court case. “I should allow you to conjecture that the case in court could go either way, but as far as I know and with the facts at my disposal, I know the judgment is going only one way and that is why and I am sure that the people we are dealing with also know that the judgment is going one way. And that is why they are trying to circumvent the processes of the law and do whatever they want”, the NGF spokesman said. 

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