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Paris Club Refunds: 2 firms tussle over N2.2bn allegedly diverted by Gov Yari

Two firms, Udemgaba and Associates and Mountain Quest Investment Services Ltd have challenged the federal government over the ownership of N2.2billion allegedly diverted by associates of Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari from the state share of Paris Club Refund.

The development was sequel a suit by the Federal Government, seeking the forfeiture of about N2.2 billion funds allegedly diverted by allies of Governor Yari. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had earlier on July 4 ordered the interim forfeiture of N500million of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) funds, allegedly moved into First Generation Mortgage Bank Ltd and another $500,000 traced to Gosh Projects Ltd.

The judge further directed that any party who might have interest in the forfeited funds should indicate his or her intention within 14 days. But at the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, owner of Udemgaba and Associates, Prince Godwin Udemaduka with his team of lawyers led by Dr Valerie Azinge (SAN), Rita Chris Garba, Mrs S. Offia and Lawrence Alobi, brought an application seeking to be joined as an interested party in the matter.

Udemgaba and Associates also attached with its application, letters of appointment as consultant with the Zamfara State Government in 2011 and agreement to be paid 20 per cent of the recoveries. The Federal Government has so far released N760.18billion from the Paris Club Refunds to the 36 states of the federation while Udemgaba and Associates claimed that it is yet to be paid its professional fees.

The application by Quest Investment was brought by its lawyer, Uzoma Nnona, seeking to be joined in the suit on the grounds that the funds are part of its payment for the supply of equipment to Gosh Ltd for the execution of projects for Governor Yari. But the lawyer to the EFCC, Prince Ben Ikani did not object to the two applications for joinder.

In his ruling on the matter, Justice Dimgba held that since the law allows interested members of the public who have interest in the matter to come and show cause, there is no need to bring application for joinder. He, therefore, admitted the parties to the suit.

During the hearing in July, the EFCC had claimed that the 36 states of the federation hired Bizplus GSCL Consortium to recover excess deduction from its allocations to the Paris Club from 1995 to 2002 at the rate of 2 per cent.

The anti-graft agency stated that contrary to the agreed rate, the NGF instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deduct at the rate of 5 per cent, which accrued to N19.4 billion, which was paid into the NGF Access Bank account on December 8, 2016. The EFCC further alleged that on December 23, 2016 the sum of N2.2billion was moved from the NGF account to a private firm, Bina Consults and Integrated Ltd.

Andrew Orolua, Abuja

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