Nigeria Governors’ Forum has described as outright mischief the stories in the media that there were illegalities in the disbursement of the Paris Club loan refund.
Reports had claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in a report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, indicted Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki, his aides, and Robert Mbonu, a consultant the NGF hired, for money laundering to the tune N3.5billion.
However the governors, in a statement signed by Abdulrazaque Barkindo, NGF spokesman, said there was no illegality in the transaction of the refund of over deductions from the statutory allocations of the states for debt-servicing from 1995 to 2002.
According to Barkindo, Mbonu’s Melrose General Services Limited was appropriately hired as a consultant and was paid an amount commensurate to its services. He added that it was not the duty of NGF to begin to probe into how money genuinely paid to its service providers was spent.
The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to publications in the media which are believed to have emanated from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, about a purported report the anti-graft agency submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on March 10, 2016.
“The report is said to have indicted the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and imputed illegal dealings in the disbursement of the Paris Club refund payment to states of the federation as handled by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF.
“While the NGF will not want to repeatedly join issues with the EFCC on the disbursement of the first tranche of the Paris Club refund, particularly after its officials have been interrogated by the anti-corruption agency and we provided all necessary and required details and documents regarding disbursement to states, including harmonising the number of consultants and payment made to them, we are constrained to once again state the following for the benefit of members of the public:
“It is true that Melrose General Services Limited was one of the consultants that was duly engaged and documented to facilitate the disbursement of the Paris Club refund. The consultant was also paid an amount commensurate to the services it provided, among other numerous consultants that were involved in the process.
“The NGF maintains its earlier position that it has done nothing illegal as far as the disbursement of the Paris Club refund to states and the consultants are concerned. The Forum has all necessary approvals to act in the manner it did.
“Therefore, the misinformation in the media about the disbursement and insinuations being made concerning some governors that are being mentioned is outright mischief,” the statement read.
Already, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has called for the immediate prosecution of all those indicted by the EFCC report on the London-Paris Club refund money.