Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State has accused Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice of supporting consultants and private firms to fleece Nigerians of their money.
Speaking to AriseTV on Thursday, Fayemi queried why the AGF is in a hurry to pay the $418 million alleged fee to the consultants instead of waiting for the court judgment.
“It is befuddling that the Attorney General of the Federation is pushing vehemently on the side of people whose primary intent is to fleece the Nigerian people,” Fayemi said.
“One of the ways in which the Governors’ Forum at the time tried to address it was to call for all the cases that are in court and all the claims that are been made by consultants and reviewed them. This review was carried out. The Attorney-General requested for information on this.
“This information was passed to him and at the end of the day, $350 million was approved by Mr. President as full and final settlement and some of these funds went to people who are now back to the Attorney-General claiming for ‘$419 million’.
“So if in 2017, a certain amount of money had been approved as full and final payment, where did this $418 million come from? I suppose that is the question that the court needs to help unravel.
“In 2017, when the President of Nigeria graciously agreed to pay the refund that was inappropriately deducted from the state and local government, many of these people came out of the woodworks and they were blocking the receipt of these funds by states.
“What is happening now is just a continuation of this sleight of hand and that is what the governors are challenging. I wrote to Mr President on behalf of my colleagues. I sat with Mr. President on this issue, and clearly, Mr President was misled and there is no way governors are going to do this.”
The Governor further said that the claims against the states were untrue and should be carefully scrutinised.
“We have been very clear that these claims to the best of our knowledge are fraudulent and they should be subjected to a forensic audit if states are found to be liable on account of the purported consultancy allegedly offered and delivered by these people,” he said.
SaharaReporters had in a series of reports exposed wide-ranging legitimacy issues, including non-execution of agreed contracts and backdoor deals raised against the indebtedness from various quarters.
One of the beneficiaries is one Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards who was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that Edwards did not represent the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as claimed.
A letter dated August 1, 2018, by former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to the Ministry of Justice/Attorney General Office indicted him of an attempt to defraud the Nigerian government.
It said, “The suspects had filed applications in court to be joined as one of the judgement creditors during the garnishee proceedings and the applications were refused by the Federal High Court. The judge in a ruling delivered on the 27th of June 2016 frowned at Dr Ted Edward for brandishing a judgment purportedly delivered by the Federal Capital Territory on 30th October, 2015 and in fact, took a swipe at it.
“By the motion ex parte filed on the 30th of March, 2015, the judgement creditors applied for a Garnishee Order Nisi which was granted on 1st April, 2015 and fixed the return date for 16th April for the Garnishee to show cause why the Order Nisi should not be made absolute.
“The Honorable Judge in his ruling stated unequivocally that ‘let me state right away that the substantive matter was commenced by me until I entered judgement on the 3rd of December, 2013. I have searched my records up to the date of I entered judgement. I could not find the name of Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards as representing the judgement creditors even for one day nor did I find any process filed by his law firm. How then was that judgement prosecuted?’
“Another point to highlight is the fact that according to the purported letter of engagement being bandied by Dr Ted Edwards, he was engaged on September 15, 2011, long before the matter was filed in court quoting the exact judgement sum.
“What this throws up is the fact that the said letter of engagement was done after 3rd December 2013 and backdated to make it look as if the suspect had been engaged before the case started. There is no evidence to prove that the suspect did any work in relation to the recovery process.
“A careful look at the memorandum of settlement Dr Ted Iseghohi Edwards and Hon Odunayo Ategbero betrays the conspiracy and an attempt to defraud the Federal Government by the suspects.
“Pending Actions; Invitation and/or Arrest of the suspect, Dr Ted Iseghahi Edwards with a view of confronting him with all the issues raised in the evaluation above.
“Tracing and filing interim forfeiture order on any property or asset acquired with proceeds of fraud by Dr. Ted Iseghahi Edwards.”
SaharaReporters gathered that despite the report, Malami and Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to the President persuaded Buhari to approve $159 million as legal fees to Edward.
They also directed the DMO and the Ministry of Finance to release the promissory notes to Edward and others so that they could take their shares, a source had said.
“Edward was the Secretary-General of ALGON when the Paris Club refund case FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013 was done by Joe Agi (SAN) and his colleagues before Justice Ademola. It is clear that he was not the lawyer to ALGON and this much ALGON has said in writing to Malami and the Chief of Staff, Gambari,” the source had told SaharaReporters.
“The EFCC in its report to Malami and Gambari also established that Ted Edward did not represent ALGON and that Ted Edward in his own handwriting admitted that Joe Agi was the lead counsel for ALGON. He went to one Judge, Baba Yusuf and procured a judgement that he was the lawyer to ALGON in the Paris Club refund case.
“Yet, Malami who knows this is recommending that Ted Edward be paid $159,000,000 as fees from ALGON instead of the actual lawyer. Will this not amount to double payment whenever Mr Joe Agi demands to be paid? From my investigation, Mr Joe Agi, ALGON and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum have all gone back to court to challenge the payment of the $418 million, including that of Edward through promissory notes.
“Should Malami not take a second look at the suit and see if really there is any fraud as being widely alleged? Instead, he and the Chief of Staff tricked the President and subsequently directed the Debt Management Office and the Finance Office to release the promissory notes to Edward and others so that they can take their shares.
“The total sum of $418million promissory note suggested by Malami to be paid is just a tip of the iceberg of what is coming unless he is stopped. Nigeria will become bankrupt before President Buhari leaves office. The anti-corruption war of Buhari has been effectively clipped by Malami and Gambari using their powerful offices to trick the President who really trusted them. All needed to be done is to allow an independent people to go through the whole cases concocted on the advice of Malami and the truth will be seen and Nigeria saved of all this massive stealing.
“Why is Malami not challenging any of these court judgements? If I may ask; in most of all these claims, the EFCC had investigated, took statements and established that none of the contracts was executed. The report was submitted to Malami and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun by Magu-led EFCC suggested the arrest and interrogation of Ted Edward and one Prince Nicolas Ukachukwu but he and Gambari suppressed the report.
“The same man suggested to be arrested is who Malami said should be given $159,000,000. ALGON had written several letters to him and Fayemi, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Governor Forum that all the jobs executed by Edward and others were fake, not executed. Yet Malami in the face of this clear case of fraud tricked the President in a memo and said judgement was given against them.
“He also negotiated the debt to 50 percent and convinced the President to pay to avoid more damages. It’s high time President Buhari save his anti-corruption war by causing a thorough investigation of his appointees involved in this massive fraud.”
Other beneficiaries include a former member of the House of Representatives, Ned Nwoko, who is laying claim to $142,028,941 via a consent judgment he obtained from the Federal High Court in Abuja in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/148/2017.
Three beneficiaries laying claim to $143,463,577.76 via a judgment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2129/2014 are: Riok Nigeria Ltd, Orji Nwafor Orizu, and Olaitan Bello.
From the total money, Riok Nigeria Limited has a share of $142,028,941.95 (about N54 billion), Mr Nwafor is entitled to $1,219,440.45 and Mr Bello has a share of $215,159.36.
A firm, Panic Alert Security System Limited, owned by George Uboh, is also laying claim to $47,831,920 based on another “consent judgment” it obtained in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2018, which was filed as recently as 2018.