Alleged diversion of $86million legal fees Of Paris club recovery loots

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has summoned  the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation,  Mallam Abubakar Malami, Minister of Finance,Mrs  Kemi Adeosun, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria and others over alleged diversion of $86million legal fees due to the legal firm that facilitated the recovered funds of $3.189 billion of Paris and London Club.

The Nigerian Tribune learnt that the affected government  officials were being summoned to appear before the Committee today in other  to get to the root  of how $86,546,526.65 which represents 10 percent of the over deductions of loans made by the Paris Club for 774 local governments in Nigeria was paid into the account of Governors Forum, .

According to findings  others invited include: The Department of State Security,  DSS  the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and all the stakeholders connected with the transaction.

Recall that the legal firm,Edwards and Partners had petitioned Members of the House of Representatives threatening to freeze accounts of the Federal Government in the US and United Kingdom if the legal  fees was not paid to the firm that facilitated the payments.

It was gathered that  the  issue took another dimension when the Minister of Finance in a letter dated November 21 last year directed the Central Bank Governor to pay the Nigerian Governors Forum the sum of $86,546,526.65 relating to consultants fees.

According to the  letter entitled: Re: Paris Club Over Deductions-Mandate for Payment, the minister stated that I attach the approval of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari with reference HMF/FMF/PRE/OB-ODFLO/2016/1 for the refund of over deductions of Paris Club and London Club loans

“Please take this mandate as authority to pay the following: Eighty six million, five hundred and forty six thousand, five hundred and twentysix dollars and sixty five cents($86,546,526.65) relating to consultants fees”,the letter added..

A reknown modern commercial bank account (GTB Plc) 0023577047) was given in the letter for immediate payment.

However, it was  revealed that this did not go down well with Edwards and Partners who had earlier gone to court vide a judgment with ref: FHC/ABJ/CS//130/13 where it was ordered that they be paid their legal fees.

The minister also directed within this period that the Governors Forum should be paid in its first tranche the sum of N153,015,930,045.35 out of the recovered over deductions facilitated by the lawyers.

The lawyers had insisted in the petition addressed to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara they needed be paid first on first line basis based on the judgment not any other entity.

The legal firm stated in the petition that :”the Plaintiff is entitled to be paid at source as a first line charge 100 percent of any recovery or proceeds are paid to the Local Governments directly trough their state governments, through any organ of government whether state or Federal or through any of their agents or agencies”, the petition read.

The firm stressed in the petition that despite notifying the Ministry of Finance and CBN of the order of court, both the Ministry and the apex bank still went ahead to make several disbursements to state governments directly without the mandated first line deduction at source.

They also stated in the petition that “the minister of finance further directed the CBN to pay our legal fees to the Governors Forum,  an entity unknown to us in the course of the entire transaction and her directive was dully effected by the CBN”.

According to the firms,”We employed the services of a total of approximately 300 lawyers both local and foreign including about twenty Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs,to assist us in this undertaking with the clear understanding that they shall all be paid from our 10percent share of the proceeds of the successful recovery of the Board of Incorporated Trustees of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON BOT, for and on behalf of the 774 Local Governments of Nigeria”, the firm added.

They  petitioners argued that “in the light of the above, we were left with no choice but to explore freezing all known bank accounts belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria and any of its agencies in the United States of America and the United Kingdom pending full payment of their fees as directed by courts”.

Investigation  further revealed that the various parties had earlier in February met with the the Office of the Attorney General to the Federation where the matter was adequately ironed out but not satisfactorily carried out.

In a letter dated February 27 and signed by Director, Civil Litigation, Dayo Apata confirmed such a meeting was held on January 13.

You might also like
Front Page Today

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More