There is rising tension in the land not just because of insurgency and all manner of banditry ravaging it but also as a result of concerns over the Paris Club refund and allegations of a plot to defraud the country, being raised against government officials.
It is worrisome that accusing fingers are being pointed at top officials of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that came to power with integrity and anti-corruption slogans. The President had approved payment of $418 million to consultants who facilitated London and Paris Club debt relief for Nigeria. But the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF), the House of Representatives Minority Caucus and a number of interest groups are kicking against the payment even as the Federal Government has allegedly issued promissory notes to the consultants.
That is why government officials are now being accused of misrepresenting facts with the intent to defraud the country. For those who condemn the list of consultants and contractors who have lined up as creditors to government, there are fears that the Paris Club refund may end up being a conduit pipe rather than a windfall.
In a judgment in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013 delivered on December 3, 2013, Hon. Justice Adeniyi Ademola stated that the sum of $3,188,078,505.96 (three billion, one hundred and eighty-eight million, seventy-eight thousand, five hundred and five, United States dollars, ninety-six cents) be refunded to the councils.
Among those lined up as creditors to the Nigerian government are consultants, lawyers, investigators, contractors and the Ministry of Justice.
“How can a company investigate a court judgment and is being paid $47,000,000. In fact, in this case, let the governors’ forum pay them and not ALGON that has no privity of contract with the company. Under what law can such a company claim to have investigated a judgment, instead of talking about appeal?” Lamu, an anti-corruption crusader, queried in a media report where he also canvassed the view that the Attorney-General should commission a forensic audit to save the country from being scammed.
According to Lamu, a senior advocate of Nigeria, ALGON and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have all gone back to court to challenge the payment of the $418 million to the parties listed above through promissory notes. He raised further questions as to whether the Attorney-General should not take a second look at these suits and see if really there is, indeed, fraud as being alleged.