The Coalition of United Political Parties has faulted state governors for failing to pay outstanding fees to the contractors engaged to faciliate the refunds of the wrong deductions made by the Federal Government from monies due to the state and local governments in respect of the London/Paris Club loans.
The CUPP through its spokesperson, Mark Adebayo, made this call at a packed Press Conference held in Abuja on Thurday where it insisted that justice must be done by paying the Paris/London Club refunds consultants, Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors, that was agreed with them as consultancy fees prior to the refunds collected by the States and LGs.
Adebayo said evidence showed that the two contractors worked to assist to the states and LGs to recover their overdeducted funds from the Federal Government”
He said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum having made part-payments had no reason to neglect to pay the outstanding fees.
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He said “The main issue now is that, having made part-payments of the consultancy fees Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum decided to stop midway and wouldn’t want to pay the balance of the outstanding fees. The question now is why?
“Having carried out such an outstanding assignment for the states and LGs to assist them recover billions of dollars that they never imagined they could get, one would have thought that one good turn deserved another and that the NGF and ALGON would, without any hesitation, fulfill their pre-assignment financial obligations to Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International.
Alas! That’s not the case here.
“The questions are, why are the governors doing this? Why would they block the legitimate earning of a Nigerian citizen who worked so hard to rescue you from financial calamity? A man who deserves a national award is now being treated like a common criminal and being painted bad to the public. This is an egregious injustice that must be reversed immediately by fully meeting the financial obligations entered into with Ned Nwoko solicitors and Linas International Ltd and rest this matter permanently”.
Read the full statement below
BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE COALITIONS OF UNITED POLITICAL PARTIES AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS (CUPPCSOs), FCT, ABUJA (22-09-2022)
THE PARIS/LONDON CLUB REFUNDS, OVER-DEDUCTIONS FROM STATES’ AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS’ ACCOUNTS AND OTHER MATTERS ARISING
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press and compatriots here present,
It is our sense of patriotic commitment that informs this Press Conference to ensure that Nigeria does that justice is done to all concerned on the issue of the Paris and London refunds . The issues related to the Paris/London Clubs refunds have to be laid to rest once and for all with all parties involved doing the needful to avert a more complicated dilemma for the country.
It is strictly in national interest that we decided to make this intervention in conjunction with members of the Civil Society to ensure that the facts of the matter are laid bare for broader public understanding and get justice done as quickly as possible.
We are all aware that recently there was a disturbing incident of claims and counterclaims regarding the Paris/London Club debt exit vis-ā-vis the roles played by consultants and the outstanding charges due to them running into millions of dollars. There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the whole saga with deliberate efforts being made by certain interested parties to obfuscate the facts in order to direct the narratives to suit their nefarious purposes and dark interests. It has been deliberately characterised by well-orchestrated blackmail, denials and outright coverup.
The general public has been misled by wicked propaganda and deliberate misinformation on the subject matter for so long and that cannot be allowed to continue.
Being a matter that concerns our national commonwealth, we consider it a patriotic duty to intervene in a decisive manner not only to lay the facts bare but to also ensure that justice is served to all parties involved. This is a public interest matter and we have a duty to intervene as individual patriots and organisations with a view to resting the matter once and for all. If anything, Nigerians deserve to know the whole facts of the matter.
Personally, I have made public comments about this matter on live television based on the information at my disposal on the issue at that time upon which I alleged that the consultants were looking to reap where they did not sow. But after much interrogation based on the interests shown on the matter by credible Civil Society and anti-corruption organisations, some of which are represented here today, we decided to dig deeper into the matter to unravel all the variables and, via the application of the instruments of the Freedom of Information Act, we succeeded in accessing some crucial documents relating to the matter some of which will be distributed to the media today. This is to make the public realize that we are speaking to already established facts and not mere speculative subterfuge.
To start with, I would like to clarify certain points I raised in my live interview on the African Independent Television , AIT, on August 23rd, 2022. Inter alia, I alleged the Attorney-General of the Federation of overzealousness in his efforts paying off the consultants at the detriment of other judgment creditors which might be due to his personal interests. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fairness to his person and office, he acted in total altruism. We have since discovered that the Federal Government, through a presidential directive, decided to settle all accumulated judgment debts en bloc. It was on the basis of the totally unnecessary controversies, as you will soon discover, surrounding the Paris/London Club refund that warranted the direct intervention by the office of the HAGF. He acted in good faith in accordance with the realities of the matter and subsisting rulings and orders of courts of competent jurisdiction on it. Any misinformation with regard to this is highly regretted and the records will be set straight here today.
We have discovered that there were three categories of judgment debt and all were given attention/presidential approval to be paid through promissory notes.
Categories of Judgment Debts:
A. Paris/London clubs refund/judgment debts
B. Judgement debts against FG ministries
C. Judgement debts related to MDGs
The two other categories did not attract public attention simply because their execution did not generate any controversy. The judgment creditors dealt directly with the federal agencies that were the judgment debtors and got their matter cleared without much stress. However, the consultancy fee component of the Paris/London Clubs refunds ran into challenges because of the involvement of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in-between.
It is instructive to reveal that the same NGF complaining about the payment of consultancy fee collected monies appropriated for payment for consultancy services. We discovered that they collected at different times the sum of $86.4mUSD and N19b. They also collected $100mUSD. We found that the EFCC has been investigating some of these and some forfeitures made.
Secondly, with regard to Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors, the sole consultants in the Paris/London Club refunds, which has been mostly in the eye of the storm, the sum of $418m USD being associated with Honorable Ned Nwoko has never been a claim made by him as we have now discovered. His demand has always been the payment of the outstanding to be paid him on the works done for the states and LGAs on the recovered funds being the Consultancy agreement officially entered into with the state governments in recovering the over-deductions from their allocations to the latter by the Federal Government for several years. The balance of $68m dollars promissory notes is for the job done for states. As far as Linas work for Local governments is concerned, Part payment was made by the Federal Government on the work done for LGs and balance remains outstanding.
It is mischief to lump Linas with $418m or promissory notes. We are hopeful that FGN will settle Linas as soon as possible.
More light will be shed on this in the course of this Press Conference.
A SUMMARY OF THE WHOLE MATTER:
Ladies and gentlemen, permit me at this stage to present you with a general overview of the saga under interrogation. A few indubitable fundamentals stand out in this matter, to wit:
1. Prior to the intervention of Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors, the state governors were not aware that their states were overpaying their loans which was rendering their states broke and unviable, nor were the Local Government Chairmen aware that the deductions being made at source from their allocations were illegal.
2. It took the intervention of Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors for the states to be alerted that they had overpaid their loan commitments long ago and for the Local Governments to realise that, having not taken any loans, they were not obligated to be involved in the excruciating deductions that the Federal Government was making on their monthly allocations. Hon. Ned Nwoko made them realise that, having not possessed the legal instruments to take foreign loans, they had no business paying foreign loans they had not been part of.
3. It was also the intervention of Linas International that made the FG aware that it was overpaying interests on loans it had already completed paying and there was need to stop and recover the excess payments
4. It was Hon. Ned Nwoko who assured both the state Governors and LG Chairmen that he had the technical knowhow, the professional competency and experience to assist them recover their overdeductions from the FG having.
5. Clearly, both the states and the LGs entered into a consultancy agreement with Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors to assist in recovering the overdeductions from states and the illegal deductions from the LGs by the FG upon which the former – Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors – were to be paid 20% of the recovered sums at source and paid to the accounts submitted by the consultants. It was for this reason that the Local Governments gave Linas International an irrevocable power of attorney to recover $3.1BN for the Local Governments and Ned Nwoko Solicitors to help in the recovery of overdeducted $10BN belonging to the states both of which were perfectly executed and the money fully recovered and collected by the States and LGAs.
6. By available records, no other consultant was involved in this arrangement with the states and LGs other than Linas International and Ned Nwoko Solicitors. And, to the best of our knowledge considering available documents on the matter, no other consultant except the latter was ever involved in the processes and efforts to get the refunds for those two tiers of government – the states and LGs.
7. On the legal actions to get the FG to commence the refunds to the states and LGs, it is on record that it was only Ned Nwoko Solicitors that proceeded to Court via a class action on behalf of its clients – the states – to compel the FG to commence the refunds to them. No other consultant or legal firm did. (NGF’s letter presented)
8. It is on record that Linas International/Ned Nwoko Solicitors commenced work on the old Gongola State comprising Adamawa and Taraba states before other states showed interest and joined with documented consultancy agreements.
9. Based on the intervention of Ned Nwoko Solicitors and legal action on behalf of the states on the instructions of the NGF, the FG began to execute the refunds in 2016.
10. The total amount refunded by the FG totalled USD$10Billion to states and USD$3.1Billion to LGs due principally to the legal actions cited above and serious personal lobbying of the presidency/FG embarked upon by Hon. Ned Nwoko.
11. Any other consultant or contractors mentioned in any publication with regard to this matter has nothing to do with the Paris/London Clubs refunds in terms of recovery. Riok International, for instance, is making claims from the refunds on the basis of the borehole contracts it executed for the LGs and did not play any role in executing the refunds. Panic Alert, too, played no role whatsoever. It’s only work related to the refunds was that it was hired by the NGF to audit the work of Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International upon which it concluded its report that “We thus recommend that the Forum/State Governors (sic) should allow the Consultant – Linas International Limited get their 20% being the agreed upon fees for the services rendered, but withhold the 15% for the contractors because we have deem (sic) ALGON and the contractors’ actions tantamount to unethical business practices and unjust enrichment”.
12. We wish to state categorically that the 25-page report of the EFCC investigation into this matter unequivocally revealed that Ned Nwoko Solicitors carried out the consultancies for the recovery and delivered the job perfectly.
Kindly permit me to quote a few paragraphs directly from the EFCC report dated August 1, 2018 page 19;
“From the investigation conducted so far, the following facts have emerged:
i. That Ned Nwoko Solicitors , a firm based in London was engaged by 14 states namely Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Niger, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Bayelsa, and Zamfara to inquire into the deductions by way of first line charge revenue that accrued to them from their share ofhe Federation Account from 1992 to 2006 in relation to London and Paris Clubs debts servicing and buy back”.
ii. That 235 Local Government Councils in Nigeria donated irrevocable powers of Attornies (sic) to Linas International Ltd to verify and establish the exact deductions made from their statutory allocation account by the Federal Government In the settlement of foreign debts…”
iii. That there is evidence that Linas International liaise (sic) with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Debt Management Office, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, and others to obtain relevant documentations realting to the loans in question and the guarantees, deductions and penalties and payments from the Excess Crude Account to Foreign Creditors…”
iv. That there are proofs that both Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International Ltd engaged the services of different professionals to carry out their assignments leading to the stoppage of the deductions and subsequent refunds in 2008.”
That is the much we can read from the EFCC investigation report. at the moment. Kindly read the rest in the documents attached to this address.
Finally, let me quote from the letter of no objection addressed to the Federal Minister of Finance on 5th July, 2017 by then Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, His Excellency the former Governor of Zamfara state, Hon. Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, in which he stated, among other things that,
“We write to confirm that we do not object to the direct payment of the balance of consultancy fees due to Local Governments consultants and contractors from payments due to Local Governments, to Messrs Linas International Limited/Consortium …”
“Also find attached a copy of the letter of the President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) dated 30th June, 2017, confirming that ALGON and Messrs LInas International Limited entered into a contract that resulted in the refunds of deductions against the Local Government Councils in Nigeria”.
From the EFCC report and the NGF letter of no objection quoted above, it is clear that Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International Ltd worked to assist the States and LGs to recover their overdeducted funds from the Federal Government.
The main issue now is that, having made part-payments of the consultancy fees Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum decided to stop midway and wouldn’t want to pay the balance of the outstanding fees. The question now is why?
Having carried out such an outstanding assignment for the states and LGs to assist them recover billions of dollars that they never imagined they could get, one would have thought that one good turn deserved another and that the NGF and ALGON would, without any hesitation, fulfill their pre-assignment financial obligations to Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International.
Alas! That’s not the case here.
The questions are, why are the governors doing this? Why would they block the legitimate earning of a Nigerian citizen who worked so hard to rescue you from financial calamity? A man who deserves a national award is now being treated like a common criminal and being painted bad to the public. This is an egregious injustice that must be reversed immediately by fully meeting the financial obligations entered into with Ned Nwoko solicitors and Linas International Ltd and rest this matter permanently.
As you will notice on pages 19-20(1V) of the report of EFCC’s investigation on this matter already given to you, it was stated categorically that “there are proofs that both Ned Nwoko Solicitors and Linas International Ltd engaged the services of different professionals to carry out their assignments leading to stoppage of the deductions and subsequent refunds in 2008”.
Now, after investing his own money to engage professionals – auditors, chattered accountants, lawyers, forensic experts, etc – locally and Internationally who worked so hard to secure these refunds, the NGF is blocking the payment of his fees for no just cause. This is the crux of the matter that must be resolved immediately.
Thank you all for your kind attention.
Comrade Mark Adebayo,
Barrister Kenneth Udeze,
Director of Mobilisation, CUPP and National Chairman, Action Alliance.
Center For Public Accountability, CPA.