The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has described the statement of a lawyer and business magnate, Prince Ned Nwoko regarding the Paris Club refund as “blatant lies and half truths”.
Nwoko, who is the Lead Consultant of Linas International Limited, the consultants for the recovery of over deductions from Paris and London clubs debt buy back funds, alleged that the NGF demanded and received $100 million to prosecute elections in some states.
The NGF has been in a protracted tussle with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami over the controversial $418 million Paris Club contractors’ fee, which they described as “fraudulent and self-serving”.
Nwoko said the consultancy fee owed by the states and local governments was $68 million and not $418 million as claimed by NGF.
However, NGF’s Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo said Nwoko told blatant lies and half truth while speaking to journalists.
“The facts are and will always remain: whether the claims of the consultants are lawful and justified under our constitution and whether any judgment which is a subject of a pending appeal can be enforced or executed as the consultants now attempt to do”? the statement reads.
“If both questions are answered in the negative, it does not matter if the contracts leading to the claims were entered into by any public official, past or present.
“No person or persons can agree to blatantly circumvent our constitution and get away with it. Neither is the period when judgments were obtained of consequence in this case”.
NGF further said Nwoko only singled out and justified his own fee, which is part of the controversial $418 million.
“While he strenuously tried to single out and justify his own bogus claim of $68 million, the total amount which all the consultants, working in concert, collectively seek and claim from the states and Local Government Areas (LGAs), albeit unlawfully, is $418,953,690.59.
“Broken down as follows: Ned Munir Nwoko $68,658,192.83; Ted Isighohi Edwards $159,000,000; and Panic Alert Security System Ltd $47,831,920.
“Others are Riok Nig Limited $142,028,941.95, Prince Orji Orizu $1,219,440.45; and Barrister Olaitan Bello $215,195.36, which makes the total of $418,953,690.59.
“The attempt by Ned, therefore, to separate his own claim of $68 million as if it is not related to the claims of other consultants is being clever by half.
“All the consultants claim to have rendered the same or similar service of helping the states and LGAs to recover over-deducted Paris Club refunds by the federal government performed some contracts to be paid from the Paris Club refunds.
“It is therefore needless joining issues with Ned Nwoko or indeed any of the consultants. It is, however, imperative to debunk patent lies dished out in order to disabuse the minds of the undiscerning public.
“In his desperation to justify his claim, Ned peddled untruths that his team was a member of the federal government committee constituted to reconcile figures under the Paris Club refunds to the states and local governments. That is patently false. The report of that committee dated May, 2007 shows that only the FMF, OAGF, CBN, DMO and RMFC (secretariat) were members”.
In 2021, the governors obtained an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja restraining the Federal Government from deducting the money from states’ accounts for the purpose of paying the disputed debt.
The forum had also accused Malami of bias in handling the controversial debt, questioning his role in the process.