The 36 state governors and minister of the federal capital territory have said the Paris club refunds were used judiciously
The state executives, who spoke through the Nigeria Governors Forum said if money had been stolen, the EFCC would have indicted them and President Buhari would not have ordered the release of more money
The Forum accused the media of putting itself in a bad light by reporting in print, electronic and online platforms that the governors diverted the money for their own use
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has denied that it diverted part of the first tranche of the Paris-London Club refund to states released to states and the federal capital territory by the federal government some time ago.
The Nation reports that the Forum maintained that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is investigating the allegations has not found any one of them guilty, so there was no need for the uproar.
Spokesman of the NGF Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo also noted in a statement at the weekend that if money had indeed been diverted, President Muhammadu Buhari would not have on Thursday, March 16 ordered the release of the second tranche of the refund to states.
The statement read in part: “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum read with utter disgust reports making the rounds in the print, electronic and social media that monies accruing to states from the Paris and London Clubs refunds have found their way into private pockets.
“Apart from stating that these reports are unfounded and are only a figment of the imagination of the writers, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum wishes to also categorically state that nothing illegal has been committed in the entire process leading to the final disbursement to states of the first tranche Paris-London Clubs repayment of the excess deductions from states’ coffers and the refund of their loans.
“Following the barrage of innuendoes, untruths and outright falsehoods that have pervaded the media, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum deems it imperative to shed light on the transactions that followed and put the records straight.
“The Paris London Clubs loan refund has been on the cards since 2005. Successive state governors had tried to get reimbursement for the excess deductions from their states in the past but did not succeed. The failure resulted from a number of reasons, varying from one state to the other. It is therefore to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’s credit that this set of governors was able to persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to authorize the release of the funds for disbursement to deserving states.
“President Buhari’s desire to reflate the economy at a time when states were insolvent and unable to pay salaries was why he acceded to the request by the current group of governors that the money be released to the states. It is true that there were conditions attached to the disbursements but these arose from the collective and voluntary resolution of the governors and not any draconian order from any quarters.
“And each and every approving authority, including the Federal Ministry of Finance, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the office of the Auditor General of the Federation as well as the National Assembly were duly informed from the beginning to the end of all the transactions.
“Nothing illegal was done and no monies was paid into the personal account of any Governor, legislator or top officials at any of the levels and arms of government in the country.”
The statement added: “Note also most importantly at this juncture, that every decision that was taken in respect of all the transactions was with the full consent and blessing of the 36 governors.
“We therefore find the insinuation in the media that monies went into the private accounts of seven unidentified governors as not only preposterous but mischievous.
“This is more so because none of the reports was able to identify a single governor, not to talk of seven. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) itself had issued a release exculpating all the governors, saying it was investigating the matter further.
“But instead of allowing the EFCC to conclude its investigations, a particular section of the media resorted to this unsavory falsehood which puts the media and its practitioners in bad light.”
Recall that EFCC denied that it has found senate president Bukola Saraki and a host of state governors guilty of allegedly pocketing billions of naira in Paris club loan refund.
In a statement released on Monday, February 13, the EFCC said not only was the story against Saraki and the governors untrue, also false were allegations that officials of the agency were trying to cover up the indictments.