Crime Politics

EXCLUSIVE: How AGF, Malami, Ahmed Secretly Paid Paris Club Consultants Millions Of Dollars Without Buhari’s Knowledge

EXCLUSIVE: How AGF, Malami, Ahmed Secretly Paid Paris Club Consultants Millions Of Dollars Without Buhari’s Knowledge

Information reaching Naija News House says that How AGF, Malami, Ahmed Secretly Paid Paris Club Consultants Millions Of Dollars Without Buhari’s Knowledge

Millions of dollars out of the $478 million in Paris Club refund-related judgment debts have been released to some creditors without the consent of President Muhammadu Buhari, SaharaReporters has gathered.

While the President on August 03, 2022 during the Federal Executive Council meeting directed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to suspend plans to begin the deduction of the $418 million Paris Club refund allegedly owed the contractors from the federation account, documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that millions of dollars were released from the federation account on June 28, 2022 and July 7, 2022 to some of the consultants.

This was also confirmed by a top source privy to the illegal payment.

“The Paris Club refunds are being paid without Buhari’s knowledge,” a source told SaharaReporters on Wednesday.

“Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the AGF (Attorney General of the Federation) Malami and others actually began paying these men since last year using heavily discounted promissory notes.”

In 2006, the Nigerian government had paid $12 billion to get an $18 billion debt write-off by the Paris Club of international creditors.

However, because the payment was made directly from the revenue accruing to the entire federation, states and LGAs that did not owe the Paris Club asked the Nigerian government for a refund.

Some consultants surfaced along the line to claim a percentage of the refunds as payment for their services to the states and councils.

Some contractors also claimed they were asked to execute projects across the country by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Questions were asked about why states would need consultants to negotiate with the federal government over the refund, while the projects said to have been awarded by ALGON turned out to be mostly non-existent.

The governors had asked for a forensic audit. While the contractors and consultants went to court, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami curiously went to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with them and agreed to pay $418 million as judgment debt.

SaharaReporters had recently reported how the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice asked the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele to release the fund to Linas International Ltd, a company belonging to Prince Ned Nwoko, a former House of Representatives member and other consultants over the Paris Club refund.

He claimed ignorance of various court cases on the payment and asked the CBN to release the money. According to the chief law officer, Nigeria shouldn’t be seen dishonouring financial instruments issued in her full faith.

After secretly paying millions of dollars to the consultants on June 28 and July 7, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and Malami during August 3 FEC meeting tabled a memo asking the cabinet to approve the restart of the deductions from funds due to states from the federation account.

According to PREMIUM TIMES, after Ahmed, and the AGF made their presentations, they were immediately fiercely countered in quick succession by the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and two other cabinet members.

The FEC members who spoke against the deduction were said to have told the meeting that it would be sub-judicial for any payment to be made to the contractors while cases are pending in courts.

They also reportedly argued that it was insensitive of Mrs Ahmed and Malami to have tabled a proposal for the payment of controversial debts to contractors at a time the government is struggling to pay workers and fulfil its obligations to citizens.

“The ministers argued that since the issue is being challenged in court, and there is a Supreme Court pronouncement in place, it would be illegal to go ahead with the planned deductions,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

“The argument against the planned deductions was also made within the context of the nation’s economic crisis, poor revenue, and uncertain fiscal position.”

Against the backdrop of the arguments advanced by the ministers, Buhari was said to have spoken in support of the ministers’ position, adding that the planned deductions being allegedly championed by both Malami and Mrs Ahmed be suspended until the courts make their final pronouncements.

“Unknown to the President and other cabinet members, Malami and Ahmed have started payment to the contractors already. They only came to the meeting to back up the illegal payment made so far.

“On June 28 and July 07, over four billion naira was released from the federation account to UBA account numbers 1015850558 and 1010440561 belonging to Panic Alert Security System, one of the Paris Club consultants,” a source told SaharaReporters.

The firm in question, Panic Alert Security System Limited, owned by George Uboh, had laid claim to $47,831,920 based on a “consent judgment” it obtained in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, which was filed in 2018.

Background

SaharaReporters had in a series of reports exposed wide-ranging legitimacy issues, including non-execution of agreed contracts and backdoor deals raised against the indebtedness from various quarters.

Paid Paris Club

One of the beneficiaries is one Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards, who was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that Edwards did not represent the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as claimed.

A letter dated August 1, 2018, by former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to the Ministry of Justice/Attorney General Office, indicted him of an attempt to defraud the Nigerian government.

It said, “The suspects had filed applications in court to be joined as one of the judgement creditors during the garnishee proceedings and the applications were refused by the Federal High Court. The judge in a ruling delivered on the 27th of June 2016 frowned on Dr Ted Edward for brandishing a judgment purportedly delivered by the Federal Capital Territory on 30th October, 2015 and in fact took a swipe at it.

“By the Motion Ex parte filed on the 30th of March, 2015, the judgement creditors applied for a Garnishee Order Nisi which was granted on 1st April, 2015 and fixed the return date for 16th April for the Garnishee to show cause why the Order Nisi should not be made absolute.

“The Honorable Judge in his ruling stated unequivocally that let me state right away that the substantive matter was commenced by me until I entered judgement on the 3rd of December, 2013. I have searched my records up to the date of I entered judgement. I could not find the name of Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards as representing the judgement creditors even for one day nor did I find any process filed by his law firm. How then was that judgement prosecuted?

“Another point to highlight is the fact that according to the purported letter of engagement being bandied by Dr Ted Edwards, he was engaged on September 15, 2011, long before the matter was filed in court quoting the exact judgment sum.

“What this throws up is the fact that the said letter of engagement was done after 3rd December, 2013 and backdated to make it look as if the suspect had been engaged before the case started. There is no evidence to prove that the suspect did any work in relation to the recovery process.

“A careful look at the memorandum of settlement Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards and Hon Odunayo Ategbero betrays the conspiracy and an attempt to defraud the Federal Government by the suspects.

“Pending Actions; Invitation and/or Arrest of the suspect, Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards with a view of confronting him with all the issues raised in the evaluation above. Tracing and filing interim forfeiture order on any property or asset acquired with proceeds of fraud by Dr. Ted Iseghahi Edwards.”

SaharaReporters gathered that despite the report, Malami persuaded Buhari to approve $159 million as legal fees to Edward. They also directed the DMO and the Ministry of Finance to release the promissory notes to Edward and others so that they could take their shares, a source had said.

“Edward was the Secretary-General of ALGON when the Paris Club refund case FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013 was done by Joe Agi (SAN) and his colleagues before Justice Ademola. It is clear that he was not the lawyer to ALGON and this much ALGON has said in writing to Malami and the Chief of Staff, Gambari,” the source had told SaharaReporters.

“The EFCC in its report to Malami and (Ibrahim) Gambari also established that Ted Edward did not represent ALGON and that Ted Edward in his own handwriting admitted that Joe Agi was the lead counsel for ALGON. He went to one Judge, Baba Yusuf and procured a judgement that he was the lawyer to ALGON in the Paris Club refund case.

“Yet, Malami who knows this is recommending that Ted Edward be paid $159,000,000 as fees from ALGON instead of the actual lawyer. Will this not amount to double payment whenever Mr Joe Agi demands to be paid? From my investigation, Mr Joe Agi, ALGON and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum have all gone back to court to challenge the payment of the $418 million including that of Edward through promissory notes.

“Should Malami not take a second look at the suit and see if really there is any fraud as being widely alleged? Instead, he and the Chief of Staff tricked the President and subsequently directed the Debt Management Office and the Finance Office to release the promissory notes to Edward and others so that they can take their shares.

“The total sum of $418 million promissory note suggested by Malami to be paid is just a tip of the iceberg of what is coming unless he is stopped. Nigeria will become bankrupt before President Buhari leaves office. The anti-corruption war of Buhari has been effectively clipped by Malami and Gambari using their powerful offices to trick the President who really trusted them.

“All (that is) needed to be done is to allow independent people to go through the whole cases concocted on the advice of Malami and the truth will be seen and Nigeria saved of all these massive stealing.

“Why is Malami not challenging any of these court judgements? If I may ask; in most of all these claims, the EFCC had investigated, taken statements and established that none of the contracts was executed. The report was submitted to Malami and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun by Magu-led EFCC suggested the arrest and interrogation of Ted Edward and one Prince Nicolas Ukachukwu but he and Gambari suppressed the report.

“The same man suggested to be arrested is who Malami said should be given $159,000,000. ALGON had written several letters to him and (Kayode) Fayemi, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum that all the jobs executed by Edward and others were fake, not executed. Yet Malami in the face of this clear case of fraud tricked the President in a memo and said judgement was given against them.

“He also negotiated the debt to 50 percent and convinced the President to pay to avoid more damages. It’s high time President Buhari save his anti-corruption war by causing a thorough investigation of his appointees involved in this massive fraud.”

Other beneficiaries include a former member of the House of Representatives, Ned Nwoko, who is laying claim to $142,028,941 via a consent judgment he obtained from the Federal High Court in Abuja in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/148/2017.

Three beneficiaries laying claim to $143,463,577.76 via a judgment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2129/2014 are: Riok Nigeria Ltd, Orji Nwafor Orizu, and Olaitan Bello.

From the total money, Riok Nigeria Limited has a share of $142,028,941.95 (about N54 billion), Mr Nwafor is entitled to $1,219,440.45 and Mr Bello has a share of $215,159.36.

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