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Paris Club Refunds: Bayelsa Washes Hands Off Nigeria Governors Forum's Consultancy Fee

The Bayelsa State Government has dissociated itself from the purported hiring of consultants for the first tranche of the Paris Club refunds by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

Bayelsa State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Maxwell Ebibai, said in a statement in the state capital Yenagoa on Saturday that the state government was not involved in the hiring of any consultant on the Paris Club refunds.

Ebibai’s statement was a sequel to reports that a revenue consultant had taken the 36 state governments to court over claims that it was retained to handle the refunds while its fees were paid to an unknown consultant.

“We did not engage and have never engaged the services of a revenue consultant in respect of the Paris Club over deductions or refunds, neither has it paid any funds to any consultant,” the commissioner said.

“The policy thrust of our government is to ensure accountability, transparency and high ethical standards in the conduct of government business.

“Let me assure the people of Bayelsa State that our government will do all within its powers and resources to ensure that no unscrupulous consultant takes undue advantage of us.”

Ebibai also disclosed that Bayelsa was yet to receive the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds disbursed in March 2017, although he said the state received N14.5bn in the first tranche received in December 2016.

Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun had said that states must meet the condition of the ministry’s monitoring and evaluation of the deployment of the first tranche by the state governments before accessing the second tranche.

The condition was to ensure that the refunds were judiciously utilized, particularly for payment of salaries to workers in the 36 states.

Meanwhile, a former member of the House of Representatives and legal practitioner, Mr. Ned Nwoko, has lately demanded the payment of N22bn from some states as consultancy fee for the recovery of N522.74billion foreign loans deductions.

In a writ of summons filed against the Nigeria Governors Forum and seven others, Nwoko sought an order of the court directing the forum to pay his consultancy/legal fees from the N413.6 billion already released by the Federal Government.

He said it was agreed in his engagement letter to recover the accruals from the funds wrongly deducted by the Paris Club and London Club between 1995 and 2005.

In the suit by his lawyers, J.K. Gadzama (SAN) and K.C.O. Njemanze (SAN), Nwoko also asked the court to direct the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay directly into his account any sum to be released on the refund of the excess deductions without passing thought the NGF.

The lawyer, who joined as defendants in the suit the Accountant General of the Federation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Access Bank Plc and Guaranteed Bank Plc, claimed that the NGF had hired another consultant to illegally copy his work.

States listed as the refunds beneficiaries include Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Taraba and Zamfara.