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Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said yesterday that state governors had no reason to complain about Paris Club reimbursement deductions paid to consultants they hired .
The AGF said the noise generated by the governors’ forum was not only unwarranted, but a clear case of defenselessness.
Speaking at the Ministerial Press Conference organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Minister reminded the Governors that they had created the liability whose payment they also indemnified.
Responding to the question as to why, despite a Presidential directive to suspend the deduction of Paris Club reimbursement, he did not see fit to enforce the directive as certain deductions would have been made, he asserted that when the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) made a claim for reimbursement, one of the components was the settlement of the consultants hired by the forum.
Malami recalled that when the reimbursement was made to the states, the governors initially made it to the states, a partial payment was also given to the consultants.
However, he said the governors later decided to stop the payment while seeking an out-of-court settlement.
The minister said this resulted in the president being asked to make the payment, a request, he said, which was then forwarded to the AGF office for legal advice.
Malami noted that after going through the necessary checks; it was discovered that there was no element of fraud involved.
According to him, the governors indemnity was also requested and received.
He said: “On the Paris Club issue that is being raised. You mentioned that there is a presidential directive that payments should not be made, and then, in violation of that position directive, payments may have been made, possibly due to the conspiracy between the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice. payments have been made.
“I think you need to know the background first, the prevailing circumstances and how the liability arose, but one thing I’m happy to say, which I want to repeat after saying this earlier , is the fact that the Office of the Attorney General and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari have indeed incurred no major legal debt for seven years.
“Let us now come to the background of the Paris Club. The liabilities or judgment debts related to the Paris Club were indeed liabilities created by the governor’s forum in their own right.
Continuing, he explained, “The Governors Forum composed of all the Governors sat down by mutual agreement on the engagement of a consultant to provide them with certain services relating to the turnaround of the Paris Club. It was therefore the governor’s forum under the federal government that hired the consultant.
“Second, when finally there were successes with the reimbursement, together with the Paris Club, the governors collectively and individually submitted a request to the federal government for the fund. And among the elements of the claim presented for consideration by the federal government was an element related to the payment of these consultants who are now the subject of litigation. So the implication of this is that the governors on their own recognized the consultant, acknowledged their claim, and presented that claim to the federal government.
“Three, when the claims were finally settled and paid at the governor’s forum. They have indeed on their own initiative, without the intervention of the federal government, taken steps to make partial payments to the consultants, acknowledging their responsibility in this regard.
“And then four, when they finally made such payments at some point, they made the decision to stop the payment. The consultants filed a lawsuit against the governors forum. And what happened went to court? They submitted to judgment on consent. They asked and urged the court to allow them to settle out of court.
“The court gave them the opportunity to settle. They agree in writing to the terms of the settlement, they sign the terms of the settlement, accepting and granting that these payments be made to the consultant.
“And then five, thereafter, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was requested to comply with the judgment and make the payment.
“The president has forwarded all requests from governors to the attorney general’s office for review. I suggested to the president the face value of the judgment and the nuances associated with consulting services.
“It is my opinion, the same treatment we have given to P&ID, that has enabled us to subject this claim, the consent judgment, to investigation by government agencies. Mr. President approved, I have ordered EFCC and DSS to review these claims and report to the Attorney General’s office.
“And these agencies have reported and concluded that there is no implication of any problem associated with this. The government can continue to sanction the dependent payment. Now, that was the context.
“Even so, we have taken further action after receiving these reports from the EFCC, among others, to seek compensation from the governors. You, as a forum, have assumed this responsibility, as a forum you have submitted to the judgment on consent. We have investigated this claim and have a report, but even then we require independent indemnification from you, establishing that it is with your consent and understanding that these payments are to be made, by writing.
“And I am pleased to report that the Governors have individually and collectively provided the desired indemnity to the Attorney General’s Office, conceding, agreeing and submitting that payment should be made.
“Yes, and that was the motive and the basis on which we finally made a decision by advising the president that the payment had to be made. And then along the way there was a change in the direction of the governors forum And all the noise that is now being generated by the governors forum is not only unwarranted, but in fact, a clear case of defenselessness.
“But another interesting point that you might want to note is the fact that the new leadership of the governors forum sued, even when the federal government was actually acting on the basis of the Supreme Court judgment. They have now embarked on a new legal action, disputing the payment, disputing the previous agreement, disputing the indemnity and the court has dismissed the claim. Their case was dismissed by the Federal High Court.
“So this is the basis and I am happy to report one, that the judgment and the affirmation was a judgment that was obtained long before the Attorney General Abubakar Malami took office, long before the entry into office of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It was a product of their own doing and they did it is subject to legal proceedings, a judgment was entered against them. They pledged to pay the money, they themselves actually performed the partial payment I have closed my file and would not like to answer any further questions on this matter.

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