$3.5 billion loan: Falana to commence legal suit against Nigerian government

Femi Falana
Femi Falana

Nine days after he wrote the Nigerian government advising against the plan to secure ‎a $3.5 billion loan, Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, has said he would commence legal proceedings against the government.

Mr. Falana had, in a letter dated February 5, urged the Finance Ministry‎ to jettison its plan to secure a $3.5 billion (about N700 billion) loan from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

In a statement on Sunday, the lawyer said he had not received any response from the ministry.

“Since you have not deemed it fit to react to the serious issues raised in the letter, kindly be informed that we shall commence legal proceedings not later than February 29, 2015, with a view to compelling the Federal Government to recover the said loans, royalties, levies, and other recoverable revenues of not less than $66.5 billion,” Mr. Falana said.
In a letter to the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Falana had said instead of taking the loan, the government should direct the anti-graft agencies to recover all loans and revenues accruable to it.

“From the information at our disposal, the federal government is owed not less than $66.5 billion (about N13.3 trillion) which ought to be recovered without any further delay,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated in the letter dated February 5.

According‎ to Mr. Falana, the five cycles of independent audit reports compiled by the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, showed potential recoverable revenues of not less than $20.2 billion.

“The potential recoverable revenues are said to have arisen from ‘underpayment/under-assessment of taxes, royalties, levies and rents.’

“If you require more information in respect of this matter you may wish to contact your colleague, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning. In her capacity as the immediate past Executive Secretary of NEITI she had called on the federal government to recover the said sum of $20.2 billion.”

Mr. Falana said the Central Bank of Nigeria, in 2006, apportioned $7 billion out of the nation’s external reserves to 14 Nigerian banks‎ to “manage.”

“In addition, following the crisis of global capitalism, which occurred in 2008, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave a bailout of $4 billion (N600 billion) to the commercial banks in the country.

“The CBN has not deemed it fit to ask for the refund of the total sum of $11 billion injected into the banking system in the space of two years.”

Mr. Falana also said the Presidency, in September last year, announced the Nigerian National Petro‎leum Corporation’s commencement of recovering of $9.6 billion in over-deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts.

Weeks ago, Mr. Falana continued, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation, disclosed that the federal government had concluded arrangements to recover an additional $750 million from the “Abacha loot.”

“In the ongoing Senate Probe into the affairs of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), it has been revealed that the corporation had accumulated over $25 billion (about N5 trillion) debts as against its Act which put the debt ceiling at N800 billion,” said Mr. Falana.

“According to Mr. Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director of AMCON, ‘most of the debtors of AMCON are big men who fly in private jets, live in big mansions and they have taken money and they are not paying back.’

“From the foregoing, you will agree with us that the hapless Nigerian people should not be made to pay for the gross mismanagement of the national economy by the federal government and the profligacy of the pampered members of the ruling class.

“While acknowledging the concerted efforts to recover the looted wealth of the nation through the anti-graft agencies and the Arms Procurement Panel, the Buhari administration should embark on the immediate recovery of the aforesaid loans and accrued revenues with a view to financing the 2016 budget and the infrastructural development of the nation.”

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  • BobSolo

    busy body…because you are a lawyer you think you can just dabble into anything…thank God that Buhari never made you the Minister of Justices…you would have been more of a theatre jester than a team player in an administration that needs everyone on board

    • terminator7

      Guy what is wrong in stating the obvious.$66bn is no small money and the present minister of Budget and planing confirmed this. there are lot of people who have stolen the commonwealth of Nigeria and have stashed it abroad. take the case of Capital oil . Amcom seized it and had to pay with Nigeria’s money when it was in massive debt only for Jonah to order its return to Uba without him paying back the money. A lot of stories abound so for him asking the government to do the right thing should be applauded.or are you among those who have stolen our money?

    • Julius

      Why are you upset with what he is doing ? There must be other reason for your mindless tirade. Get a life. You can do that as a citizen if you choose to. Nonsense

    • TrueNja

      The era of impunity is gone with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. We, the majority Nigerians are behind Falana solidly on this subject matter.

  • share Idea

    Nigerian noisy SAN, you’re able to determine how much the FG is owed and want them recovered but have not told the same FG to immediately fulfil their own side of bargain, i.e pay all the contractors that they are indebted to (including state governments). Nigeria we hail thee

  • ilubarde

    Your motives are very patriotic. But, tell us how this government can discharge its worthy electoral promises of making life easier for the common without going for loans? After all, recovering $66.5 billion is not going to be an easy task. It will take a long time to achieve. Should the government wait until then? Go on with your suit to compel the Federal Government to recover these funds but please do not stop them from collecting the loan

  • Reason-ability

    This man was never really cerebral in University. He spent his entire three years being a student unionist and causing trouble and he has never matured out of this mould. There is something called Locus Standi and a justiciable issue. Nigerians elected a government to serve them and what they can do or cannot do are contained in laws of Nigeria. To want to sue a government for running government is laughable at best and “cryable” at worst. Falana should heed the Yoruba saying and “gbo tie”. This meddlesomeness is just irritating. There are so many areas of the law that needs his help. He should set up a legal aid department to help people who need legal help and have no money to pay SAN. Gani Fawehinmi who he tries so hard to emulate was never trivial but anchored all his cases on some law. Please Femi Falana should stop this.

    • TrueNja

      Definitely you’re one of the treasury looters. Ole, gbewiri, jaguda, barawo, nemesis will catch up with you soon.

  • bigbang

    Falana you should direct your efforts into suing the British and US governments. Not the Nigerian government. The UK recently signed a deal to keep 25 million pounds out of the seized 50 million pounds of James Ibori funds. The US and UK refuse to return stolen assets to Nigeria.

    • Julius

      While I agree with you, but, You dont think they do all the legal work for free, do you ? The only thing is the amount/percentage they kept. I do not like that, its too much.

      • bigbang

        @Julius, I am okay with legal fees. I am not okay with extortion.

        • Julius

          Exactly, I agree !

  • musa aliero

    If Nigerian can truly recover that money then, we won’t be broke anymore! I urge buhari to please recover that money! It will remove us out of the current problems we r facing!

  • Watch man

    Firstly, I do not think it is wrong for Femi Falana to express his franchise in any legitimate way he deems fit since he is a bona fide citizen of Nigeria. He also has a right to question how the nation’s fund is being managed, especially if he pays his taxes. What he has also articulated may have also opened the eyes of quite some Nigerians concerning the profligacy resident in the governance of Nigeria. It is just unfortunate that PMB happened to be the one that inherited a lot of mess deposited by previous administrations. Now, if Femi’s actions would help in compelling the govt to recover the looted funds so as to fund the budget, I do not see any evil in that. PMB has already told us that a lot of money has already been recovered. I praise him for such effort. But I must be quick to say that the lootocrats are very much around and the machinery of governance should be used to get the stolen funds out of their hands. If Femi’s effort would therefore help in moving Nigeria forward then he should be encouraged. This country has really passed through hard times in the hands of kleptomenic leaders. Although the task of recovering the stolen funds may be indeed arduous, someone has to start it; and it turned out to be PMB. Since this is in tandem with his electoral promises he would also need the support of all patriotic Nigerians and of course prayers to be able to hold the criminals that robbed Nigeria dry accountable.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      Falana might be paying devils advocate for FG.
      Nigeria is a place where if PMB were to start efforts to recover these money’s some tribal unions, bishops & imams will urge him to slow down or accuse of witch-hunting, victimisation or on vendetta mission ETC.
      Buhari need all our help in the War against corruption, misguided miscreants & Wolves in Sheep clothing in Nigeria.

      • Watch man

        Thanks for strengthening my point. Honestly, any assistance, no matter how minute it may be, that patriotic Nigerians can offer to the current govt of PMB would in one way or another go a long way in helping. Whosoever (imam, bishop, unions, etc) may not want the current effort at rooting out lootocrats to continue must be enemy of the state, and patriotic Nigerians should use every legitimate means to silence such one. Thanks!

  • Izedomi Ohirein

    Falana’s move is logical & deserve commendation & support of every well meaning Nigerian. With so much loots & payments to recover, Nigeria could plan on recovering these money’s in the next 3yrs alone & forget the falling price of crude Oil.
    Priority should be given to production & adding value to our primary products.
    Those who want to travel to Mecca, Medical/ Secondary School tourism for their children or import tooth pick ETC should go to bureau de change.

    • The facts

      How is it logical? Where’s the law that says government must not borrow if the government is owed money? If Falana wanted to ask the court to compel the government to collect its debt, that is a different matter but for him to go down this route shows that he’s thinking like a radical undergraduate law student.

      • Izedomi Ohirein

        Being forbidden to borrow will compel government to drive collection with more zeal.
        We need direct international assistance & reinforcement for EFCC, ICPC & CCB to do their Jobs more effectively. Falana is only playing – “devils advocate”.

        • The facts

          How can a government be forbidden from borrowing? So if you are running a firm and you need funds are you saying you won’t approach the banks for loans just because some clients are owing you money? By the way, the loans are for capital projects which have been budgeted for. The recovered debt can’t be used for capital projects as they were never budgeted for.

          • Izedomi Ohirein

            For the last time. Falana might be playing “devil’s advocate” for the government.
            There s nothing wrong with borrowing for investment, even when you have the money.

  • Burning Spear

    Where were the thoughts of Falana when Buhari took 2.1b loan to fix the North east-? An area which is still under war—-Again which department or Agency was set up to adminsiter the funds—-Where was Falana when Buhari took another loan of 2.4b from the world bank again for NNPC–all na this Falna acts na the same old Yoruba wayo

  • REDEEM

    Of the two main candidates that stood for last year’s election, I thought Buhari was the better man. I believe the description by Time Magazine of Goodluck Jonathan’s time in office was pretty accurate. But If I think back to 2011, then I believed GEJ was the right man; we were proved wrong. Buhari still has time to prove us right, but he can’t do that by changing back into military fatigues.”BBC

    • Truthometer

      Who let the dog out?

  • Bambam

    Femi..this is where I always disagree with you..most times you take the late Gani Fawehinmi’s (God bless and rest his soul) route of blind anger against injustice and corruption…it was necessary during the military days..as we dealt with insane men then..but at moments like this..you need to be calm..calculating and effective with your methods..the Government is being owed $66.5 billion..beautiful..but how much of it can be recovered quickly to fund the budget?..we can’t wait till funds are recovered before funding the budget..in any case when you borrow..they do not release all the monies to you in one tranche..so what I did advise Femi is this..sue the FG so that they can be compelled immediately to go recover as much of our owed $66.5 billion..but don’t stop them borrowing what they need at low interest rates to fund the budget..they can always return what they borrowed when they recover the loot you suing and compelling them to go after..but in any case why should a government fighting corruption not go after such a huge loot?..this is why Nigerians are losing patience with Buhari..he’s moving too slow and yet not steady enough!!

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