How Malami, Finance Minister, Ahmed Paid Paris Club Consultants Millions Of Dollars Without Buhari’s Knowledge

Millions of dollars out of the $478 million in Paris Club refund-related judgment debts have been allegedly released to some creditors without the consent of President Muhammadu Buhari, SaharaReporters reports.

While the President on August 03, 2022, during the Federal Executive Council meeting directed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to suspend plans to begin the deduction of the $418 million Paris Club refund allegedly owed the contractors from the federation account, documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that millions of dollars were released from the federation account on June 28, 2022, and July 7, 2022, to some of the consultants.

This was also confirmed by a top source privy to the illegal payment.

“The Paris Club refunds are being paid without Buhari’s knowledge,” a source told SaharaReporters on Wednesday.

“Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the AGF (Attorney General of the Federation) Malami and others actually began paying these men since last year using heavily discounted promissory notes.”

In 2006, the Nigerian government had paid $12 billion to get an $18 billion debt write-off by the Paris Club of international creditors.

However, because the payment was made directly from the revenue accruing to the entire federation, states and LGAs that did not owe the Paris Club asked the Nigerian government for a refund.

Some consultants surfaced along the line to claim a percentage of the refunds as payment for their services to the states and councils.

Some contractors also claimed they were asked to execute projects across the country by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Questions were asked about why states would need consultants to negotiate with the federal government over the refund, while the projects said to have been awarded by ALGON turned out to be mostly non-existent.

The governors had asked for a forensic audit. While the contractors and consultants went to court, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami curiously went to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with them and agreed to pay $418 million as judgment debt.

SaharaReporters had recently reported how the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice asked the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele to release the fund to Linas International Ltd, a company belonging to Prince Ned Nwoko, a former House of Representatives member and other consultants over the Paris Club refund.

He claimed ignorance of various court cases on the payment and asked the CBN to release the money. According to the chief law officer, Nigeria shouldn’t be seen dishonouring financial instruments issued in her full faith.

After secretly paying millions of dollars to the consultants on June 28 and July 7, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, and Malami during the August 3 FEC meeting tabled a memo asking the cabinet to approve the restart of the deductions from funds due to states from the federation account.

According to PREMIUM TIMES, after Ahmed, and the AGF made their presentations, they were immediately fiercely countered in quick succession by the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and two other cabinet members.

The FEC members who spoke against the deduction were said to have told the meeting that it would be sub-judicial for any payment to be made to the contractors while cases are pending in courts.

They also reportedly argued that it was insensitive of Mrs. Ahmed and Malami to have tabled a proposal for the payment of controversial debts to contractors at a time the government is struggling to pay workers and fulfil its obligations to citizens.

“The ministers argued that since the issue is being challenged in court, and there is a Supreme Court pronouncement in place, it would be illegal to go ahead with the planned deductions,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

“The argument against the planned deductions was also made within the context of the nation’s economic crisis, poor revenue, and uncertain fiscal position.”

Against the backdrop of the arguments advanced by the ministers, Buhari was said to have spoken in support of the ministers’ position, adding that the planned deductions being allegedly championed by both Malami and Mrs. Ahmed be suspended until the courts make their final pronouncements.

“Unknown to the President and other cabinet members, Malami and Ahmed have started payment to the contractors already. They only came to the meeting to back up the illegal payment made so far.

“On June 28 and July 07, over four billion naira was released from the federation account to UBA account numbers 1015850558 and 1010440561 belonging to Panic Alert Security System, one of the Paris Club consultants,” a source told SaharaReporters.

The firm in question, Panic Alert Security System Limited, owned by George Uboh, had laid claim to $47,831,920 based on a “consent judgment” it obtained in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, which was filed in 2018.

(Credit Sahara Reporters)

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