President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the payment of $418 million to consultants over the Paris Club refund should be suspended.
Naija News understands the President instructed the Ministry of Finance to put the payment on hold “until all the cases are exhausted”.
Action has now been put on hold on the controversial payment which had earlier received approval in the form of promissory notes through the Debt Management Office (DMO).
It is understood that the suspension may not be unconnected with the public outcry against the payment to the consultants.
According to The Cable, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi who also doubles as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) met and discussed with the President on Wednesday about the controversy generated by the expected payment.
Naija News recalls the federal government of Nigeria was in 2006, able to get an $18 billion debt write-off by the Paris Club of international creditors.
However, because the money was taken from the federation account which belongs to the three tiers of government while the debt was only owed by the central government, the federal government had to make refunds to the state and local governments.
But along the line, some consultants and contractors who claimed to have facilitated negotiations between the federal, state, and local governments for the refund or executed certain projects demanded to be paid some percentage of the fund for their alleged roles.
This degenerated into a controversy as the Governors declined and asked for a forensic audit. Previous federal government administrations also refused to grant approval for the payment.
The contractors on their part took the legal route and took the matter to court.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) however negotiated an out-of-court settlement with them, and a $418 million settlement was agreed.
The settlement was later approved by President Muhammadu Buhari but in the latest development, the approval has been put on hold.
Source: Naija News