You are currently viewing Malami chides Governors, says their complaints over $418m Paris Club refund is baseless
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*Accuses them of indemnifying payment to consultants

*Puts loots recovered from external jurisdiction in 14 months at N3.2bn
*Says government has secured the conviction of 1,000 terrorists

*Declares Nigeria won’t interfere with Ekweremadu’s trial in UK

The federal government has formally reacted to complaints by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) about the contentious $418 million Paris Club refund, saying the governors’ reservations are groundless.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, disclosed the government’s position yesterday during a media briefing on a wide range of issues at the State House, Abuja.

 Malami declared that there was no basis for agitation by the NGF concerning deductions from the Paris Club refund paid to consultants the governors hired.
Malami also revealed that the federal government secured more than 1,000 convictions for terrorism-related court cases in the last 18 months.
Commenting on the controversy surrounding the fund, the minister reminded the governors that they created the liability whose payment, he said, they had also indemnified.

According to him, 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 36 state governors.

Malami recounted that when the Paris Club refund was paid to the states, the governors initially made part payment to the consultants. He said the governors later decided to stop payment while asking for an out-of-court settlement.
He said the development resulted in an appeal in the form of a request to the president to facilitate payment to the consultants, a request that was consequently transmitted to the Office of the AGF for legal advice.

The AGF noted that after subjecting the request to critical checks, it was discovered that there was no element of fraud involved.
He revealed that the indemnity of the governors was also sought and received, which culminated in the decision to make the payment.


Malami stated, “On the issue of Paris Club, you mentioned that there exists a presidential directive that payments should not be made and then in breach of that position. I think you need to be informed, first, as to the antecedents, prevailing circumstances and how the liability arose. But one thing I’m happy to state, which I want to reiterate, having stated same earlier, is the fact that the Office of the Attorney General and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari have not, indeed, incurred any major judgement debt for the period of seven years it has been on.

“Now, coming to the antecedents, background of the Paris Club. The liability or judgement debts related to Paris Club were, indeed, a liability created by the governors’ forum in their own right.

“How do I mean? The governors’ forum, comprising all the governors, sat, commonly agreed on the engagement of consultants to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club. So, it was the governors’ forum under the federal government in the first place that engaged the consultants.
“Secondly, when, eventually, successes were recorded associated with the refund, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the federal government for the fund. And among the components of the claim presented for the consideration of the federal government was a component related to the payment of these consultants that are now constituting the subject of contention.

“So, the implication of that is that the governors in their own right recognised the consultants, recognised their claim and presented such claim to the federal government.

“Thirdly, when the claims were eventually processed and paid to the governors’ forum, they, indeed, on their own, without the intervention of the federal government, took steps to make part payments to the consultants, acknowledging their liability over the same.
“And then, fourthly, when eventually they made such payments, at a point they took a decision to stop the payment, the consultants instituted an action in court against the governors’ forum. And what happened in court? They submitted to consent judgement. They asked and urged the court to allow them to settle out-of-court.”

The minister further said the court granted the governors an opportunity to settle out-of-court.
“They committed to terms of settlement in writing, they signed the terms of the settlement, agreeing and conceding that such payments be made to the consultants,” Malami said.
He added, “And then, fifthly, thereafter, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was requested to comply with the judgement and effect payment.


“The president passed all the requests of the governors to the Office of the Attorney General for consideration. I suggested to the president on the face value of the judgement and the undertones associated with the consultancy services, it was my opinion, the same treatment we meted to P&ID, that let us subject this claim, the consent judgement, to investigation by the agencies of the government.

“Mr. President approved, I directed the EFCC and DSS to look into these claims and report back to the office of the Attorney General. And these agencies reported and concluded that there was no problem, or undertone associated with it and that the government may continue to sanction the payment. Now, that was the background.


“Even at that, we took further steps after receiving these reports from the EFCC, among others, to demand for indemnity from the governors. The governors, as a forum, incurred the liability and submitted to the consent judgement. We have subjected these claims to investigation and we have a report.”
He explained that the governors individually and collectively provided the desired indemnity to the Office of the Attorney General, conceding, agreeing and submitting that the payment should be made.

“Yes, and that was the ground and the basis on which we eventually took a decision by advising the president that the payment should be made,” Malami said.
He explained, “And then along the line, there was a change of leadership of the governors’ forum.

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“And all the noise making that is now being generated arising from the governors’ forum is not only unjustified but, indeed, a clear case of absence of defense.”
He also said, “One other point of interest you may wish to note is the fact that the new leadership of the governors’ forum instituted an action, even when the federal government was, indeed, acting on the basis of the judgement of the Supreme Court.

“They now embarked on a fresh legal suit, challenging the payment, challenging the previous agreement, challenging the indemnity and the court dismissed the application. Their case was dismissed by the Federal High Court.


“So, that is the foundation and I’m happy to report, one, that the judgement and contention was a judgement that was obtained long before the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, came into office, long before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.
“It was a product of their own doing and they had it submitted to judicial proceeding, judgement was entered against them.
“They have committed to the payment of the money, they have on their own, indeed, effected part payment. I close my case and I will not like to answer any further question on that.”

Malami said the federal government had so far secured more than 1,000 convictions for terrorism-related court cases in the last one and a half years.
According to him, the federal government has also won 312 convictions in various other criminal cases during the period under review.


Malami said, “The ministry has so far secured over 1,000 convictions on terrorism. Convictions have also been secured in 45 cases by the Complex Casework Group (CCG), maritime unit, and the special task force on electricity offenses and across the 13 zonal offices of the ministry.”
He noted that the ministry, through the CCG unit, was coordinating the next phase of terrorism-related trials in collaboration with the federal high court, the Legal Aid Council, and the Defence Headquarters.

Malami further stated that the Ministry of Justice had successfully processed over 350 Mutual Legal Assistance and 50 extradition requests, including extradition proceedings against suspended DCP Abba Kyari from the United States of America.

“My office filed extradition proceedings against the suspended DCP Abba Kyari in line with an MLA request from the USA,” he said.
The minister disclosed that the present administration had recovered over N3.2 billion (£6,324,627.66) in stolen monies from various jurisdictions globally.
He, however, disclosed that the recovered foreign loots had been judiciously expended on executing key infrastructure projects across the country, including the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Road and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, among others.

He also noted that the Justice Ministry had supported the federal government in various infrastructure-funding agreements, adding that the country currently grapples with a N329 billion funding gap.
Meanwhile, the minister said the government would not interfere in the ongoing trial of former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in London, United Kingdom.


According to him, the Nigerian government has the tradition of not interfering in judicial matters, whether local or international.
Ekweremadu is undergoing trial over allegations of organ harvest in the United Kingdom court.

Asked about the level of intervention by the federal government in the case involving the senator representing Enugu West in the National Assembly as regards his trial in the UK, Malami said, “It has never been the tradition of Nigerian government to interfere on anything judicial, local or international. And that stands the position of the government.
“I have stated in the course of my presentation that there has been in existence mutual legal assistance requests and collaboration between Nigeria and other countries across the world.

“So, to this end, I want to state that we will address request if there is such a request, both on the part of Senator Ekweremadu.
“I can remember very well, there was a request, which was passed through my office but sealed and meant for delivery to the crime agency in the UK at the instance of the distinguished senator, which requests I was not in a position to comment on because what relates to my office was a simple transmission.
“In view of the fact that the transmission of international documents is a function of a department central authority unit in the Office of the Attorney General and on the request of Senator Ekweremadu, an agency of government was asked to respond to certain inquiries, they did, and under seal, they presented their default which was transmitted to UK accordingly.

“So the implication of what I’m trying to state in essence is we have mutual legal assistance, understanding with the UK, and whichever of the agencies, either the senator as an accused or suspect or indeed the agencies in the UK, make any request for international support we will respond accordingly.
“But as far as an interest to the federal government is concerned, it is not a matter over which we can develop any interest. Perhaps maybe, if there are interests, there are interests that should be rooted in law.

“For example, relating to the child in contention, you know, we have Child Rights among others.
“For example. If there is an allegation of breach, we may possibly consider looking at it from that perspective.
“In case of consular services, there is need for Senator Ekweremadu to be accorded one, in view of the fact that he is Nigerian, and the request is made, we’ll look at it on its merits. So, what I’m saying, in essence, is not about meddlesome interloper, or perhaps maybe just coming into a scene relating to issues that border on crime.

“As you are likely aware, a number of Nigerians were before now convicted across the globe. And then a number of foreigners were equally convicted of recent in Nigeria, and over time.

“So, it is about issues that border on crime. If, indeed, a criminal allegation is an issue, the jurisdiction determines what happens, both in terms of request and in terms of support and not for the Nigerian government to simply because you are a high-profile personality we jump into that arena.”


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