The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has cleared himself of any blame in the $3.1billion dollars Paris Club Refund judgment debt, insisting that the debt was ordered for payment by a valid high court judgment in Abuja.
The Association of Local Government of Nigeria ALGON incurred the huge debt against Riok Nigeria Ltd and Ted Edwards & Edward Partners during the Paris Club and London refunds and had been ordered to be paid to the contractors through the Central Bank of Nigeria after a series of limitations.
The AGF was accused by two media organizations in their separate publications of pushing for the debt payment against the interest of the debtors.
But Malami in a reaction said that the huge debt arose from legitimate transactions freely entered into by parties in the court action long before President Muhammadu Buhari came to power and before his own appointment as AGF.
At a press conference he addressed in Abuja to clear his office and his person of an alleged shady deal in respect of the judgment, Malami specifically explained that the order for the judgment debt payment came from a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/130/13 between Linas international Ltd & 235 others versus FGN & 3 others.
He explained that the suit instituted in 2013 had prayed for the recovery of $3.188.079.505, adding that the judgment was delivered in favour of the plaintiffs on December 3, 2013 before the advent of the incumbent administrator and his own appointment.
Consequent upon the judgment, the AGF further explained that Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory granted a Garnishee Order Absolute in 2016, directing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as Garnishee to pay the huge debt sum.
To ensure that no sharp practice came into play as witnessed in the P&ID judgment scandal, the AGF said both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Department of State Security Services, DSS, were deployed by his office into the matter for investigations.
Malami said that at the end of their thorough investigations, the two agencies confirmed the contractual agreements between Association of Local Governments of Nigeria and their contractors and also validity of the court judgment ordering payment of the debt by the CBN.
He, therefore, wondered why the two media organizations came about “their alleged malicious and baseless publications” linking him and his office to an “alleged pushing for hurried payment of the judgment debt” ordered since 2013 by a competent court of record.
He faulted the media publications, adding that their authors deliberately concealed facts relating to the judgment debt and fed the Nigerian public with falsehood that portrayed him and his office in bad light.
Malami insisted that neither President Buhari nor himself was in office in 2013 when ALGON and their contractors as well as law firms engaged themselves for services that later resulted in court action and court order for judgment granted in favour of the plaintiff.
“In fact, when it became inevitable that the payment had to be effected with the consent of Governors Forum and ALGON, the office of AGF had to extract undertaking and indemnity from the Nigeria Governors Forum NGF and ALGON in 2019”
While exonerating himself from any blame in the judgment debt payment, Malami insisted that all necessary precautions were taken by his office and pleaded with the media to always get their facts clear in order not to feed the public with falsehood.
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