The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), maintained that despite the strong opposition of the governors, the federal government will continue to make the payment of 418 million dollars to four entrepreneurs who have executed contracts concerning the Paris Reimbursement of clubs.
He revealed it yesterday during the weekly ministerial briefing organized by the presidential communication team at the presidential villa.
Governors under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) had alleged yet another attempt by the AGF and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and the recent Supreme Court judgment by surreptitiously securing the approval of the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) to make the payment of the sum of $418 million to the contractors.
The governors recalled that they had previously resisted an earlier endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari under the aegis of the AGF and the Minister of Finance to pay the said sum to the contractors through the issuance of promissory notes by approaching the court for redress through their attorneys general. .
According to NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, the case is currently pending before the Abuja Court of Appeal to be heard.
But Malami said yesterday that the governors individually and collectively provided the desired indemnity to his office, conceding and agreeing to payment being made.
He explained that the government had subjected the governors’ claims and payment to the same scrutiny as the P&ID case.
Malami said he ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) to investigate the allegations and report to the AGF office.
He said these agencies reported and concluded that there were no issues associated with it.
He said: “We have a report that despite a presidential directive to suspend the Paris Club reimbursement deduction, there is evidence that the directive was not fully adhered to. Because certain deductions have been made. And some contractors have been paid. What do you think?
“On the Paris Club issue that is being raised, you mentioned that there is a presidential directive that payments should not be made and that in violation of that directive, payments may have been made due of the conspiracy between the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice.
“I think you need to know the background first, the prevailing circumstances and how the liability arose, but one thing I’m happy to say, which I want to repeat after saying the same thing more Earlier, is the fact that the Attorney General’s Office and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari have not incurred any major legal debt for seven years.
On the background of the Paris Club, he said that fund liability or judgment debts were a liability created by the governors forum in their own right.
He further explained, “How do I mean? The Governors’ Forum, consisting of all the Governors, sat down and agreed on the engagement of consultants to provide them with certain services relating to the turnaround of the Paris Club So it was the governor’s forum under the federal government that hired the consultant.
“Secondly, when finally successes were registered with the repayment, with the Paris Club, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the government for the fund.
“And among the elements of the claim presented for the federal government’s review, there was an element related to the payment of these consultants which is now the point of contention.
“So this implies that the governors on their own initiative acknowledged the consultant, acknowledged their claim, and presented such a claim to the federal government.
“Three, when the claims were finally settled and paid at the governor’s forum. They have indeed on their own initiative, without the intervention of the federal government, taken steps to make partial payments to the consultants, acknowledging their responsibility in this regard.
“And then four, when they finally made such payments at some point, they decided to stop the payment. The consultants filed a lawsuit against the governor’s forum. And what happened to the court? They submitted a consent judgment.
“They asked and urged the Court to allow them to settle out of court. The court granted them the opportunity to settle. They agree in writing to the terms of the settlement, they sign the terms of the settlement, accepting and granting that these payments be made to the consultant.
“And then five, thereafter, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was requested to comply with the judgment and make the payment. The president forwarded all of the housekeeper’s requests to the attorney general’s office for consideration.
“I suggested to the President the face value of the judgment and the nuances associated with the advisory services. It is in my opinion, the same treatment that we gave to P&ID, that we submitted this claim, the judgment on consent, to investigation by government agencies. Mr. Speaker concurred, I have directed the EFCC and DSS to investigate these claims and report to the Attorney General’s office.
“And these agencies have reported and concluded that there is no implication of any problem associated with this. The government can continue to sanction the dependent payment. Now, that was the context.
“Even so, we have taken further action after receiving these reports from the EFCC, among others, to demand compensation from the governors. You as a forum have incurred this liability, as a forum you have submitted to the consent judgment. »
He further explained that these allegations have been investigated and there is a report to that effect.
“But even then, we need independent indemnity from you that it is with your consent and understanding that these payments should be made, in writing,” he added.
Malami reiterated that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has not incurred any legal debts since the establishment of the administration.
The minister noted that the ministry, through the CCG unit, is coordinating the next phase of terrorism-related trials in conjunction with the Federal High Court, Legal Aid Board and Defense Headquarters.
He also revealed that the government had recovered over 3.2 billion naira (£6,324,627.66) of money stolen from various jurisdictions around the world from March 2021 to May 2022.
The AGF, which noted that the Ministry of Justice has supported the federal government in various infrastructure funding deals, lamented that the country is currently struggling with a funding gap of N329 billion.
He explained that an interdepartmental committee on the audit and recovery of stamp duty years has so far recovered N596,055,479.47.
“This exercise also provided employment opportunities for more than 1,000 professionals, including lawyers, accountants, auditors and financial consultants. The current financial year has so far recovered the sum of N596,055,569.47,” he said.
Malami also explained that the Department of Justice has successfully processed more than 350 mutual legal assistance requests and 50 extradition requests, including extradition proceedings against suspended DCP Abba Kyari of the United States of America.
He said: “My office has filed extradition proceedings against suspended DCP Abba Kyari pursuant to a mutual legal assistance request from the United States.”
He also said the government had recovered more than 3.2 billion naira (£6,324,627.66) of money stolen from various jurisdictions around the world from March 2021 to May 2022.