$418m Paris Club Refund: Reserve your energy for litigation, governors tell Ned Nwoko

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As the controversy asso­ciated with the Paris Club refunds rages on, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Sunday advised Ned Munir Nwoko, one of the alleged consultants on the Paris Club refund, to reserve all his vituper­ations against the NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and canvass them on appeal as the law may permit.

In a statement signed by Abdulrazaque Bello-Bar­kindo, Director, Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secre­tariat, the NGF stated that Ned Nwoko on Saturday, August 20, 2022, in a state­ment, attempted to blur and obfuscate the real facts and legal issues in controversy by dishing out blatant lies and half-truths about the whole transactions in the Paris Club refund deal.

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The NGF, in the state­ment made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday, declared that “the salient facts on the fraud associated with the Paris Club refunds can never be changed by a thousand press statements by the AGF or any of the consul­tants.

“While Ned has vowed to fully enforce the judgment in FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013, may we remind him that the law does not permit the enforcement of a judg­ment that is on appeal. Let him reserve all his vitu­perations against the NGF chairman and canvass them on appeal as the law may permit him”.

NGF described as pa­tently false, the claim by Nwoko that his team was a member of the Federal Government committee constituted to reconcile fig­ures under the Paris Club refunds to the states and local governments.

“No professional advo­cacy or media campaign to hoodwink the public can change the law.

“We are not unmindful of the ridiculous claim by one of consultants that it was his media campaign that swayed a Federal High Court judgment in favour of the NGF.

“Interestingly, the public which is the greatest victim in the mismanagement of scarce public resources has since been well informed and is on red alert to avert and stop what is appar­ently an attempt by some ravenous rent seekers mas­querading as consultants to further exacerbate the economic woes of citizens under the prevailing dire economic situation.

“The use of libelous lan­guage on the person of the chairman of NGF, who has refused to be compromised and has firmly stood his ground on the unconstitu­tional and unlawful nature of the consultants’ claims, is not helpful to their case either.

“NGF is an apolitical organisation that operates under defined principles targeted at good gover­nance. Its role in the whole of this Paris Club refund debacle to consultants is to ensure that Nigeria citi­zens are not unlawfully de­prived of resources meant for their development.

“NGF will not therefore waste its valuable time to defend unsubstantiated al­legations against individ­uals or persons who are in a position to defend them­selves.

“If Ned is sure of his facts, he is at liberty to approach the necessary authorities to bring to jus­tice on any person or per­sons and all conspirators (including himself) who were allegedly involved in misappropriating public resources for campaign fi­nancing.

“The NGF hereby states unequivocally that it has not at any time been in­volved in or been in re­ceipt of USD$100 million or any other funds from Ned Nwoko to finance elections in any state.

“Perhaps, confirming our fears and that of the public that the AGF has abdicated his role as pub­lic defender and trustee and become the strongest advocate to the consul­tants is now evident in Ned Nwoko’s press state­ment wherein he praised the role played by the AGF, describing it as inevitable.

“Ned cannot say that the consultants have no official platform to canvass their case, when the AGF has, in spite of public protesta­tion, provided the strongest and most virulent platform to campaign for the expedi­tious payment of the sums claimed.

“The AGF has addressed and issued over half a doz­en press statements justi­fying why the consultants should be immediately paid. Not even Ned’s solic­itors could have done any better”, read the statement.