EFCC goes after governors over N19bn fraud

  • accuses NGF, others of shady deals

By Odunewu Segun

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has launched an investigation into an alleged shady deals involving the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) over a N19bn commission allegedly deducted from the first tranche of the N522.74 billion of the London-Paris Club refund, National Daily has gathered.

According to investigations, the N19billion allegedly ended up in the accounts of some of the seven governors who played one role or the other in the deal, some public officers and some individuals who had no business whatsoever with the refunds.

Apart from locating the two accounts where the N19billion was remitted, the anti-graft agency has interrogated no fewer than four persons involved in the hiring of the consultants and payment.

According to findings, some states remitted as much as N600million into the NGF’s emergency accounts as commission that were opened at the last minute in defiance of the attendant agreement.

“It is saddening when we discovered that the N19billion we remitted was not paid to consultants. The money has been found in the accounts of some individuals or used for some extraneous purposes,” one of the governors was quoted as saying.

“At the appropriate time, some of us will certainly open up. We want the NGF to account for how it paid the N19billion to the consultants.”

“We want the EFCC to get to the roots of what transpired. But my state will not remit any cash as consultancy fees. They should let us meet in court.”

A top source, speaking in confidence, gave an insight into how the governors outsmarted the consultants. He said: “Two central consultants were appointed by the NGF. “Each state later appointed its consultants. But for no justifiable cause, all state consultants were asked to cooperate and carry out the directive of the central consultants. This was where some governors, especially those in the opposition, started suspecting some foul play.”

National Daily gathered the initial commission negotiated was 10% but it was cut unilaterally by a governor from the North to 2% but states were asked to remit 5%. It was on the basis of the N19billion that the consultants charged 10% but immediately the money was remitted, the governors changed the commission formula.

It was also discovered that most of the consultants have not been paid from the N19billion. “We learnt about N305million to N500million has been made available by the NGF as payment to consultants. This is a far cry from the agreed consultancy fees.”

Acting on the recommendations of the Federal Government Committee on Over Deductions of Foreign Loan Obligations from States, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the release of N522.74 billion to 35 states as refunds of over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans.

President Buhari decided to release the refunds following difficulties being experienced by states in paying salaries and pensions.