By Andrew Orolua, Abuja
A legal firm has threatened to sue the Rivers state government over the non -payment of commission on the N100 billion recovered from the excess deduction of state loans by the federal government.
The said amount is part of the $462. 593 million said to be excess deductions from the Paris Club by the federal government.
The firm, Messrs J. O. Atunbi and Company is claiming that it was engaged since 2014 by the Rivers state government to recover the said $426.593 bn from the federal government.
The firm had pressed for the loan refund during the tenure of former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala under former President Goodluck Jonathan until Buhari started to pay the state in trances
It further claimed that the state has received not less N100 billion refund as at July 17, 2017 based on the submissions it made to the Federal Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Office, adding that since the said recovery, the state has allegedly refused to pay the firm its consulting commission on the refund.
According to Atunbi, the decision to sue the Rivers state government stems from the incorporative attitude of the state government and its refusal to pay the firm its commission “after helping the state to track, reconcile and recover over N100 billion out of the $462. 593 million said to be excess deductions from the state’s loans by the federal government.
Atunbi added that he wrote several reminders to the state government demanding the payment of its commission without success, asserting that
“several reminders to the state were ignored. For instance, one of the letters, dated July 18, 2017, reminded the state government of execution of the contractual agreement with the firm.
“We diligently executed the contract per the letter of engagement, finalized the reconciliation and submitted both the interim reports, progress reports and final report on the completion of the work.
“A demand of $462,593,183.07 was made on behalf of Rivers the minister finance, director general DMO and the office of the accountant general of the federation.”
Meanwhile, the letter of engagement written by the Rivers state government to the law firm dated March 1, 2014 and titled: “Re: Back duty reconciliation and recovery of excess deductions on foreign loans on behalf of Rivers state government letter of engagement,” was signed by Chamberlain Peterside, then commissioner of finance in the state.
The letter reads in part: “With reference to your proposal for recovery of excess deductions in respect of foreign loans, we are pleased to offer you consultancy appointment under the following terms and conditions; that Messrs J. O. Atunbi and Company (chartered accountants) is authorized to review all foreign loans contracted by Rivers state for the purpose of recovering excess deductions on behalf of Rivers state government.
“That such report of such recoveries will be made available to the Ministry of Finance (hereinafter referred to as government), that all recoveries made in respect of this assignment will be paid into an account designated by the accountant general, Rivers state and that an 18 percent commission charge on reconciled and recovered amount will be paid to the consultant.”