The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has received a response from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum regarding the dispute surrounding the payment of consulting fees of $418 million from the Paris Club reimbursement.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, the spokesperson of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, questioned why the AGF was so concerned about private claims to state funds.
The governors had won a ruling from an Abuja federal high court in 2021 prohibiting the federal government from taking money out of state coffers to pay the disputed debt.
Mr Malami asserted on Thursday that the Governors had no justification for contesting the payments.
He said that the Governors had hired the consultants and that they had made steps to pay before changing their minds and filing a lawsuit.
In response, Bello-Barkindo stated that the Attorney-General should focus more on how the government might support higher education rather than diverting funds to individual wallets.
“There is no component that compels the governors’ forum to pay consultants anything, and there is no agreement between the consultants and governors collectively,” he said.
“The Paris fund money has been exhausted, and the consultants and the attorney general expect the money to be deducted from states’ accounts from sources over 52 or 58 months. That is unheard of.
“And what the NGF is saying is that there is no money to be paid and the monies that have been paid are gross errors.
“Where they are asking the monies to be gotten from is the biggest sacrilege. This money belongs to the states, the masses of this country, and because you’re powerful, you want money to be taken and given to you.
“That’s why they are using the attorney general of the federation to get the money at the source because the state does not have any reason [to pay].
“What the attorney general is claiming that there is a consent judgement is what the NGF is saying did not exist.
“What the NGF is asking for is evidence of work done. Some of them said they have constructed primary health cares across the country, and other said they had provided boreholes. These are physical things that you can show.
“This matter is in court. The court is the only authority that can determine clearly whether there is a reason for payment or not. Why are highly placed lawyers afraid of their platform?”