1. From onset, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) wishes to state that our intervention in this matter is supported by our registered mandate as a pressure group that is charged with the duty to monitor processes and mechanisms for the enthronement of respect for the principles of transparency, accountability, zero tolerance to corruption and good governance in Nigeria.
We are firm of the conviction that corruption and economic crimes are the fundamental cause of human rights violations even as we have resolved to consistently remind the government of the imperative need to apply law based mechanisms to battle corruption without fear or favour.
We acknowledge that currently, the government is not resolute and faultless in the crusades against corruption.
60 per cent of the fights against corruption is actually political witchhunt against the leading opposition political party. APC is playing the political game with anti-graft fights.
We use this medium to once more ask that all the anti-graft bodies must adhere to the principles of rule of law and must pursue the anti-graft war selflessly and not the current politically tainted methods which make EFCC looks like the attack dog of the Presidency.
Today, we are speaking about a SENSATIONAL ALLEGATION AGAINST AGF/ minister of justice in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that he Abubakar Malami connived with Central Bank of Nigeria to warehouse $200 million USD from the PARIS CLUB’S REFUND TO NIGERIA SO AS TO SHARE THE PROCEEDS.
This allegation is very far from the truth. As one of the most outspoken civil rights group we speak in support of the fundamental mandate of govt to fight corruption and abuse of office but we are also ready at the shortest notice to put our opinions across whenever we see that there is a well-hatched and conceived plots to hoodwink and misinform Nigerians by any person or authority whether within or outside government.
For this simple reason let us give you the members of the Fourth Estate of the realm the real details of the whole transactions of the PARIS CLUB REFUND AND TO LET YOU KNOW THAT THE MONEY ALLEGEDLY WAREHOUSED ARE THE LEGITIMATE CONSULTANCY FEES OF THE consultancy firm that handled the initiative of getting this bulky cash back to Nigeria from Paris club. The proceeds kept in the CBN followed due process to the best of our knowledge with the monumental amounts of official pieces of information made available to our team over the past few years.
The National Assembly is ordinarily not a necessary party because the fund in question is not part of the nation’s fiscal planning or budgets neither is it part of the revenues for which Appropriation Act must be made to capture its derivation and expenditures.
What this alarm raised by the Senator amounts to is a needless act of a busybody interloper seeking for attention where he shouldn’t play to the gallery when he could have done his homework by ascertaining the facts behind the entire scenarios.
This is the summary which can be verified from the Federal High Court, Abuja division: The firm of consultants in 2013, instituted SUIT NO.FHC/ABJ/CS/130/13 on behalf of 235 Local Government Councils (LGC’s) in Nigeria before the Federal High Court, challenging the constitutionality of deductions made by the Federal Government (FG) from the Federation Account for the purpose of settling debts owed to the London/Paris Clubs creditors between 1992 and 2002 without first obtaining the concurrence of the other tiers of government.
2. The Plaintiffs inter alia sought various reliefs and Orders, which inter alia includes; an Order mandating the Defendants (i.e. FG, Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) and the Honourable Minister of Finance) to pay to the LGC’s and Area Councils (AC’S) in Nigeria the sum of $2,624,812,616.76 being their share of the sums utilized by the Defendants for debt servicing by way of first line charges between June 1996 – March 2002; an order mandating the Defendants to pay to the LGC’s and AC’s in Nigeria the sum of $563,266,88.20 being their share of the sums utilized by the Defendant for London Club Debt Buy Back in 1992 and 2002; and London Club Debt Exit payment in 2006.
3. The Plaintiffs further sought for an order mandating the Defendants, before payment to LGC’s and AC’s in Nigeria of the sum of $3,188,079,505.96 being the total amount due, to deduct at source and pay directly to it being the lawfully appointed consultants through its Attorney 20% of the said sum refundable to the LGC’s and AC’s of Nigeria being agreed consultancy fees payable to the 1st Plaintiff for the services to the LGC’s and AC’s.
4. Judgment was delivered on 3rd December, 2013 on the matter in favour of the Plaintiffs, against the FG with an Order to pay to the Plaintiffs the sum of $3,188,078.505.96 as total refunds due to the LGC’s and AC’s.
5. FG was also mandated to deduct at the source and pay 20% of the Judgment Sum to the 1st Plaintiff through his Counsel as Consultancy/Legal Fees.
6. To enforce the judgment the Plaintiff obtained the consent of then HAGF and thereafter obtained Garnishee order Nisi against the CBN on 1st April 2015 which was made Absolute on 29th June 2016.
7. The Nigerian Governors Forum and ALGON, has written to the FMF requesting that the Consultants and Lawyers engaged by ALGON be paid for their services in instituting the action and securing judgment.
STATUS: all available documents support the fact that the consultancy services were indeed rendered by the Nigerian registered firm of consultants to the Local Government Councils and Area Councils and that the Consultant is entitled to payment. These are the officially verifiable summary based on concrete court documents and correspondences by government offices.
Surprisingly, without any effort on his part to conduct a detailed study, it was sensationally disclosed that the whopping sum had been warehoused at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
This disclosure was made following an adopted point of order 42 raised by Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West.
In his presentation, Melaye said he had a profound evidence to prove that there is a massive corruption that is about to be incubated.
In his words, “Mr. President and my very respected distinguished colleagues, I have a profound evidence to buttress, elucidate and prove that there is a massive corruption that is about to be incubated.
“Mr President, this is in relation to the Paris Club refund where already there is a plan between the Paris club refund and the office of the Attorney-General of the federation where over 200 million dollars have been warehoused as I speak, with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Already, there is a sharing formula to defraud Nigerians of this amount of money. Mr President, if I have the leave of the Senate, I will want to bring a substantive motion on the next legislative day”.
Ruling on the matter, Senate President, Bukola Saraki put it to a voice vote and it was unanimously approved for the lawmaker to bring a substantive motion.
HURIWA has studiously followed the historical trajectories of the issues leading to the so-called warehousing and we can attest that that alarm was needless since there are no criminal intents in those transactions that had to even been litigated at the Federal High Court here in Abuja which our team of observers attended and for which we have copious dossiers on it. Could those be a desperate attempt by some politicians to blackmail the consultants to part with some money to enable them to fund their coming expensive campaign? Why does a senator intend to gain by raising false and unsubstantiated alarm aimed at depriving legitimately operated services rendered by competent professionals from their lawfully entitled benefits from their lawfully agreed consultancy job?
HURIWA is the first NGO or at least amongst the frontline NGOS that would champion any call for probity in the handling of public fund by public office holders. But in this instance, AGF is free of blames because this matter started over a decade ago and it is inconceivable for anyone to raise phantom allegation of criminality against a man who is totally innocent of the allegations based on the large volumes of documents available even to the members of the public in the court of law?
HURIWA, for instance, is calling on the EFCC to fish out the culprits who stole $25 billion off NNPC as reported by The Authority newspapers. See what The Authority newspaper reported:
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice (AGF), Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) and his Finance counterpart, Hajia Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, have kept sealed lips on the exposed $25billion fraud in the nation’s oil sector.
The deals were carried out under the pretext of Joint Venture Cash Call (JVCC) payments to some international and local oil companies, with curious bank accounts and irreconcilable statements of accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The fraudulent activities, The AUTHORITY learnt have been on since 2016 and are suspected to have been carried out by yet-to-be-identified staff members of the CBN and the NNPC.
It was captured through an analysis of the official statements of account of the CBN and NNPC.
In digging further into the mess, The AUTHORITY unearthed correspondences addressed to the AGF and the Finance Minister by Barr. Edwin Agbu of Blue whales & Co (Legal Practitioners and Consultants) which were dated and received in the two ministries on October 12 on the subject matter.
The law firm said that they “were solicitors for Black Wealth Nig. Enterprises” on whose behalf and instructions it wrote the letters.
The letters were titled: “Irregularities in CBN Management of ‘CBN JVCC USD Account’ No 01270145650 with Standard Chartered Bank, London; NNPC Joint VCCP Account No 0230157141134 and Operation of Fictitious JVCC Accounts by the CBN and NNPC with the Connivance of International Oil Companies (IOCs),United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the First Bank of Nigeria: Whistleblow Thereof.”
According to Agbu, “our clients desire to make full use and benefit of the Freedom of Information Act, LFN and the Whistleblower Protection Act, LFN and divulge information over suspicious fraudulent transactions in the running and management of CBN JVCC (Dollar US)
Account No 01270145650, the operation of secret/fictitious JVCC accounts with the knowledge and /or connivance of the major oil companies and some few banks, unknown to the Federal Republic of Nigeria all along.”
Citing 23 instances, the law firm alleged that they had contacted all the oil companies and banks they had traced such fraudulent
transactions to either confirm or deny the existence of the accounts but none of them has responded to the letters till date.
“Also, we wrote letters to NNPC and CBN over the issues raised in this petition for them to clarify their position on the view/suspicion of
our client and yet, none of them have responded to the due diligence inquiry put forward to them,” he said.
They stated that “apart from having reasons only known to the CBN and NNPC for operating a JVCC through private commercial banks instead of through the CBN, our clients reasonably believe that the accounts under the cover of ‘JVCC Accounts’ are not only fictitious, but used as a conduit pipe through which Nigeria’s monies are being fraudulently syphoned for at least the past six years, leaving Nigeria in financial comatose.
“The fraud under consideration in this financial sleaze is over $25 billion, covering a period of five years, commencing from 2013 to 2017,”he said.
According to the law firm, “these amounts are recoverable and our clients are entitled to their fees on actual amounts recovered, under the law.”
Agbu continued: “I am surprised none of the ministers has responded to the letters I wrote to them on behalf of my clients. They have uncovered fraud of such monumental level which I have not seen or heard of since I was born.
“The basic intent of my clients is that they have uncovered such level of fraud. If the government is trying to celebrate or support cover-up, it is up to the government, but my clients are entitled to be paid according to the Whistleblower Policy,” he said.
Last Thursday, The AUTHORITY published some aspects of this financial sleaze in the oil sector.
The report revealed that the bank accounts into which such fraudulent monies were paid into were either eight, nine, 11 or 13 digit bank accounts, contrary to the 10 digit bank accounts legislated by the CBN before the introduction of Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) for all account holders in the country, including private and corporate accounts.
HURIWA calls for forensic investigations so the stolen fund are retrieved and the culprits sanctioned in accordance with the law. We will head to court soon to compel proper investigation. We are also calling for transparency in the alleged theft of N2.5 billion by the police detail to the Wife of the President Mrs Aisha Buhari. This matter must not be swept under the carpet. We are given the presidency 78 hours to give Nigerians the detailed findings on this or we will commence other civil society led advocacy campaigns locally and internationally.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator; Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).