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Malami: Governors just making noise… they’re liable for $418m consultants’ fee

Malami: Governors just making noise… they’re liable for $418m consultants’ fee
August 11
16:43 2022

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says state governors incurred the liability of paying private consultants for the Paris Club refund.

Malami, who is also the minister of justice, said this on Thursday at the ministerial briefing organised by the presidential communications team in Abuja.

He said the governors’ protest against the payments is “unjustified because they collectively hired the consultants.

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected plans to deduct $418 million from the federation account to pay consultants.

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Responding to questions on the Paris Club refund controversy, Malami recalled that when the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) requested the refund, one of the components was the payment of the consultants it engaged.

He said when the refund was paid to the states, the governors acknowledged their liability and made part payment to the consultants.

“At one point, they made a decision to stop the payment. The consultants instituted an action in court against the governors’ forum. And what happened in court? They submitted a consent judgment,” Malami said.

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“They asked and urged the court to allow them to settle out of court. The court granted them an opportunity to settle. They commit terms of settlement in writing, they signed the terms of the settlement, agreeing and conceding that such payments be made to the consultant.”

The minister said this resulted in a request to the president to make the payment, a request he said was then passed on to the office of the AGF for legal counsel.

He said that after being subjected to necessary checks, it was found that there was no element of fraud involved.

According to him, the indemnity of the governors was also sought and received.

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“And I’m happy to report to you 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,” he said.

“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.”

“And then along the line, there was a change of leadership of the governor’s forum. 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 defence.

“But 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 judgment of the Supreme Court.

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“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 judgment and contention was a judgment that was obtained long before the attorney general, Abubakar Malami came into office, long before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.”

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“It was a product of their own doing, and they had it submitted to judicial proceedings, judgment was entered against them. They have committed to the payment of the money, they have on their own indeed effected part payment.”

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