Governors to Malami: Your Actions on $418m Paris Club Refund Self-serving, Fraudulent
•Say AGF not acting in nation’s interest
•Vow to pursue matter to supreme court
•Plead with FG, ASUU to sheath their swords, end strike action
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), yesterday, formally reacted to recent comments by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the governors had no basis to reject the proposed deductions of the $418 million Paris Club Refund from the federation account, saying all his claims were full of lies, self-serving and fraudulent.
The governors, however, vowed to pursue the matter to the highest court in the land.
Malami, had at the State House ministerial briefing, last week, said governors originally created the liability, whose payment they had also indemnified, adding that all the “noise making that is now being generated arising from the governors forum” is unjustified.
But in their reaction at the end of their meeting, Chairman of the group and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who read the communique to newsmen at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, said after their review of the situation, especially the attempt to undermine the courts of the land, they had resolved to see it to a logical close.
“Governors extensively reviewed the purported attempts by the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance, to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court to secure the approval of the federal legislative council to effect illegal payment of a sum of $418 million to contractors, who allegedly executed consultancy in respect to the Paris Club refund, to state and local governments.
“The forum set up a committee comprising the chairman, the governor of Ekiti State, the vice chairman, the governor of Ondo State, the Governor of Plateau State, the Governor of Nasarawa State, and the Governor of Ebonyi State to interface with the committee set up by Mr. President to review the matter.
“But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is subjudice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in the court. We’re constrained by the manner in which the honorable attorney general, has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which governors had committed themselves and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that, that’s not the case.
“And we reject all of the claims that he has made on this issue. And we also insist that state will not give up on insisting that these purported claims are fraudulent and will not stand as far as governors are concerned and we would take every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancy are fully litigated upon by the highest court in the land.
“If the courts now find governors, and the Nigerian governors forum and state liable, then we will cross that bridge, when we get there. As far as we’re concerned, this is a matter that governors feel very strongly about and we do not believe that the Attorney General of the Federation is acting in the public interest, we believe he is acting in personal, selfish interest that will ultimately become clear, when this matter is fully addressed in the law court.”
On the ongoing strike, which is now in the sixth month, the governors appealed to both parties to sheath their sword and reach amicable resolution.
The communique stated: “On the prolonged strike by Nigerian universities, the Forum encourages the federal government and the academic staff union of universities to find meaningful resolutions to the lingering impasse and as proposed to engage with both parties just as we have done in the past in a bid to end in the strike.”
Addressing the state of the economy, the governors said, “Finally, the forum extensively discussed the state of the Nigerian economy and security. Following a presentation by Mr. Bismarck Rewane, a member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council.
“The forum resolved to immediately engage with the federal government and other critical stakeholders, labour, the presidential candidates of political parties and corporate actors on finding resolutions and suggestion to implement a set of immediate actions to ameliorate the worsening economic conditions in the country.”