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$417Million Paris Refund: Nigerian Governors Vow To Prevent Payment Of State Resources To Former Lawmaker, Ned Nwoko, Other Consultants

November 23, 2022

The forum comprising the 36 governors in the country said they would stand on their position regarding the $418 million Paris Club Refund and the promissory notes issued to consultants by the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Nigeria Governors Forum has said it will explore all legal channels to ensure that resources belonging to states are not illegally paid to a few under the guise of payment for consultancy services.

The forum comprising the 36 governors in the country said they would stand on their position regarding the $418 million Paris Club Refund and the promissory notes issued to consultants by the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO).

They insist that the money will not be paid to the consultants claiming the funds for the services they purportedly carried out.

Chairman of the forum, who doubles as the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal in a statement released after its 8th teleconference meeting, said regarding the $418 million Paris Club Refund and promissory notes, it would remain resolute in ensuring state resources are not unduly paid out to others.

Vanguard reports that according to Tambuwal, "following its advocacy that the proposed privatization of ten (10) National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) should be stopped, the forum has instructed its lawyers to approach the Federal High Court which at present has issued a court order restraining all the parties in the suit from taking any step or action that will make or render the outcome of the Motion on Notice seeking for Interlocutory Injunction nugatory.”


SaharaReporters reported in September that a Federal High Court in Abuja set aside a consent judgment entered in favour of a company, Panic Alert Security Systems Ltd against the Trustees of the NGF for the payment of funds to some individuals and organisations for the roles they reportedly played in the Paris Club refund received by the Nigerian Government.


Panic Alert Security Systems Limited had relied on the consent judgment to lay claim to professional fees of $47, 821, 920.


Before the judgment delivered by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had equally relied on the judgment and since recommended that the money should be paid to the company.


However, dissatisfied with the recommendation of the AGF on the basis of the consent judgment, the 36 state governors, through their forum, instructed their counsel, Mr. Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, to challenge the said consent judgment upon which the AGF relied on in court.


In his ruling, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho held that the said consent judgment in its entirety was entered without jurisdiction.


The court agreed with the counsel for the governors, Mr. Ogbole that the reliefs claimed by Panic Alert Systems Ltd. against NGF in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, were premised on a simple contract which by Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) strips the court ab initio of the required jurisdiction to entertain such matters.


Accordingly, the court set aside the consent judgment in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018.


By the ruling, all approvals by the President, AGF, finance minister, Accountant-General of the Federation and/or the Debt Management Office arising from, related to or concerning Panic Alert's claims have been voided.


In addition, all Promissory Notes, cheques or any financial instrument issued by the Federal Government in favour of Panic Alert were nullified and cancelled and of no effect whatsoever.


The decision followed a motion filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on June 30, 2021, for the setting aside of the purported consent judgment in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018.


The motion which was filed and argued by Mr Ogbole against Panic Alert Security Systems Ltd, Dr. George Uboh and others, was rooted on the grounds that the Federal High Court by virtue of Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), lacks jurisdiction to have entertained a matter that was founded on a simple contract.


In the suit, Panic Alert Security Systems Limited, claimed to have been contracted by the NGF to review a 16-page judgment in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013, between Linas International LTD & 235 Ors. V. Federal Government of Nigeria & 3 Ors.


The company claimed that it was entitled to $47,821,920, being consultancy fees, which were reportedly never agreed upon or specified in any contract with the NGF.


It thereafter filed an action for breach of contract against the NGF at the Federal High Court, Abuja on April 8, 2021.


But in a motion for the setting aside of the consent judgment, the NGF through its counsel, Ogbole, argued that the consent judgment arising from the suit did not award the sum of $47,821,920 or any other sum to Panic Alert.


He submitted that on the contrary, the judgment merely stated that Panic Alert will be referred to the Attorney General of the Federation for verification and settlement.

In August, the governors accused a former House of Representatives member, Ned Nwoko of lying in his desperation to get $68 million, which is allegedly his share out of the controversial $418 million requested by consultants with respect to the Paris Club refund.


The governors, through Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Director, Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, also in a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday, accused Nwoko of detaching himself from the group of consultants claiming the funds, saying it appears there is a crack in their ranks.

The forum alleged that Malami had more than a passing interest in the controversial funds requested by consultants, describing him as their strongest advocate.