Paris Club refund: Bayelsa breaks with NGF over consultants’ fee

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The Bayelsa State Government is not in agreement with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) over hiring of consultants for the first tranche of the Paris Club refunds by the body.

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Finance Commissioner Maxwell Ebibai declared yesterday that his state was not involved in the hiring of any consultant on the refunds.

He spoke against the backdrop of reports that a revenue consultant had taken the 36 state governments to court over claims that it was retained to handle the refunds only for its fees to be paid to someone else.

The commissioner declared that Bayelsa 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.”

He added:”The policy thrust of our government is to ensure accountability, transparency and high ethical standards in the conduct of government business,” and assured the people of the state that government “will do all within its powers and resources to ensure that no unscrupulous consultant takes undue advantage of us.”

Ebibai said the state was yet to receive its own share of the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds disbursed in March 2017.

It received N14.5bn under the first tranche last December.

The federal ministry of finance stipulates that the states must meet the condition of monitoring and evaluation of the deployment of the first tranche by the state governments before accessing the second tranche.

This is to ensure that the refunds are judiciously utilized, particularly for payment of salaries to workers in the 36 states.

A former member of the House of Representatives and legal practitioner, Mr. Ned Nwoko, is demanding 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 is seeking 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.

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


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