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Govs’ Forum accuses Malami of dishonesty over unlawful $418m Paris Club Fund deductions

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, of dishonesty over his keen interest in the details of the $418m Paris Club refund request by consultants.

This was contained in a statement issued on Monday by the NGF’s Head of Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, in Abuja on Monday titled, ‘Re: Paris Club Refund: FG counters states, insists deduction lawful, NGF: Deduction not only unlawful, but it is also contrary to public policy and morality.’

This reaction by the governors was in response to the stance of the AGF as contained in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Dr Umar Gwandu, on Friday.

Malami had reportedly displayed open support for the consultants against the states which “raises questions of propriety and the spirit of justice,” the NGF noted.

Ripples Nigeria had reported that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday barred the Federal Government from deducting $418m from the bank accounts of the 36 states of the federation.

In his statement, the NGF spokesman said, “We need to state quickly that when we first read this press release, we had to double-check to be sure that it was not authored by a lawyer representing either one or all the promissory notes’ recipients.

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“The AGF is supposed to be the chief arbiter in all matters concerning Nigerians, especially the poor masses of this country. It is incumbent upon him to, not just ensure that justice is done, but that justice is seen to have been done.

“The undue haste with which the statement was issued even before the service on the AGF of the court processes and the order dated November 5, 2021, restraining the Federal Government, seems to suggest that there is a special relationship between the office of the AGF and the consultants over and above Nigerian citizens, whose interest the AGF as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, is statutorily bound to always protect.

“The statement also suggests that the restraining order issued last Friday not only unsettled preconceived plans and angered the unnamed ‘government officers’ referred to by the media aide.”

Consequently, the NGF urged Malami to remain neutral in the interests of the public.

“Let him (Malami) advise the contractors to wait until all appeals and litigation in court are concluded. That is the true test of observing the rule of law. There is no other way, uncomfortable as that would appear.

“State resources needed for critical development should not under any guise be frittered away as payments for contracts, whose veracity and authenticity is still a subject of litigation and disputation.

“These contractors are impecunious and cannot pay restitution to the states/LGAs if the appeals or other litigation are determined against them.”

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