EXCLUSIVE: Despite pledging transparency, Buhari’s govt. conceals details of Paris Club refunds

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Months after paying N522.74 billion Paris Club loan refund to 36 states, the federal government has concealed details of the disbursements, frustrating Nigerians keen about knowing how their governors spent the huge amount, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.

For months, Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, and other senior officials blocked attempts by Nigerians, civil society and the media, including this newspaper, to obtain details of the payments, amid allegations of misuse by governors.

In authorising the payments in November 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari advised the money be used in settling arrears of workers’ salaries, retirees’ pension and gratuities.

Few states applied the funds as advised, PREMIUM TIMES found.

Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confirmed it was investigating suspected misuse of the funds, but did not give details.

But despite the government’s pledge to fight corruption by being more transparent, the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and the Debt Management Office, separately denied requests by Nigerians and groups to make those details open.

Secret sharing of $4 billion

Nigerians first knew of the refunds in November 2016 after the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Dino Melaye, accused the federal government of secretly sharing the money to states.

The lawmaker also accused the 36 states governors of attempts to conceal the payment from the public, especially civil servants.

But the finance minister, Mrs. Adeosun, promptly dismissed the allegation as “absolutely incorrect”.

She said “there was no such money to share.”

The minister did not provide further details, particularly regarding the accumulated refund of the debt service deductions in respect of the Paris Club, London Club and multilateral loans of the federal and state governments between 1995 and 2002.

Mrs. Adeosun merely explained that states were overcharged during the 2005 Paris Club for debt relief under the Obasanjo administration.

Following verification and approval by President Buhari, the minister said only 14 states would share N153.01 billion in the first disbursement, but did not disclose the names of the affected states.

Only a few states like Kaduna and Plateau, voluntarily admitted receiving payments.

Mrs. Adeosun later explained that there was an agreement with states that at least 25 per cent of each state’s claim would be paid, subject to a cap of N14.5 billion, while balances due would be paid when the country’s financial situation improves.

In the end, N522.74 billion was paid to the states.

FOI requests

After several fruitless visits to the Federal Ministry of Finance for details of the refund, PREMIUM TIMES got in touch with Mrs. Adeosun, who initially denied having details of the payment.

The minister later assured that appropriate personnel had been directed to get in touch with this newspaper with the needed details. No such personnel ever contacted this medium.

When PREMIUM TIMES sent a text message to remind the minister of her promise, her Secretary, Bridget Emakpor, called back to lash out at the reporter for making “inappropriate request”.

No further information came from the ministry, and a Freedom of Information request sent on January 30, 2017 to the Minister appeared to have been ignored.

In a response to a similar request, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, through the Director (Funds), Alexander Adeyemi, directed the newspaper to the Finance Minister for the information.

Again, no response came from the finance ministry.

Also, several telephone calls and text messages, and a FOI request to the Director General, Debt Management Office, Abraham Nwankwo, were also not responded to.

Mr. Nwankwo’s spokesperson, Liman Balarabe, did not also respond to calls and text messages requesting details of the payments.

The ministry and the other agencies did not say why the government was reluctant to release the requested details.

Buhari orders release of second tranche of payment

Amid allegations of fund diversion, and lack of transparency, President Buhari on Thursday, ordered the immediate release of the second tranche of the fund to the states to ease their financial difficulties.

The Paris Club debt payment deal was sealed in October 2005. It involved the repayment of $12.3 billion, instead of $30.4 billion.

Out of the $30.4 billion, Nigeria was expected to pay only $6.3 billion (arrears & levelling up) and another $6billion (post cut-off date debt and debt buy-back), while the creditors agreed to cancel $18 billion, an overall debt reduction of about 60 per cent.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) recently called on the federal government to sue states accused of diverting or mismanaging the refunds.

The executive director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said states should be compelled to publish what they collected and details of spending, either on a dedicated website or other media, to enable the people know what the monies were used for.

No state has done that yet.


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  • Moh’d Maiha

    “Nigeria jaga jaga…”

    • serubawon70

      Na your country be jagajaga?

      • Daniel

        What is left in the country?

        Tell the public what makes you proudly Nigerian today.

        • serubawon70

          1] I am proud of myself born a Nigerian. 2] I am proud of the values that my Nigerian ancestors handed down to me of good upbringing and high morals 3] I am proud of the rivers the hills the natural resources and minerals and good climate that Almighty has bestowed on Nigeria 4] I am proud of the President of Nigeria who has decided to depart from the normal corrupt type of governance which has landed us in economic quagmire. To name a few

          • gats

            ogbeni go and sleep with all this your Nigerian poems
            if buhari is not with the corrupt politicians. was it your pocket money that was used to fund his Campaigns ?

          • Daniel

            Yes, you can be proud of your ancestors ,certainly from your ethnic group, which already existed before Nigeria came about.

            But to be proudly born Nigerian is a mistake. Nigeria is one of the worst places to be born, except you are from a wealthy home.

            How many are from wealthy homes?

            The natural environment and resources you mentioned have only been used to make you POORER .

            And for the last point , I LAUGH !

            YOU certainly should not be proud of a monumental disaster as president.

            His presence creates chaos and insecurity in the country.

            And if I may ask : do you know you can easily settle in a West African country than Sokoto, Gombe, Bornu, Kano,Jigawa some other northern enclaves?

            If you want to live in a place you first consider your freedoms and SECURITY.

            LONG before Boko Haram, the North was unsafe for Christiams and Southerners, except you are one of them.

            Please, you can only be proud of your ethnic group in this geographical expression.

    • okenwa

      Everything scarter scarter……..

  • Buhari needs God’s deliverance

    This is definitely not the Buhari we voted for! Something evil definitely has happened to this man and he his been hijacked by evil forces in aso rock as revealed by Ruben Abati. The sickness inflicted on him is part of the cause of his weakness and his not knowing what to do. Please help pray that God Almighty delivers this man from evil captivity and use him for good of the suffering masses. Its unbelievable that a man know for his strong stance against corruption will watch with his eyes and ears fully opened as his lieutenants continue to loot the nation blind. Its a very big shame. May Go deliver Nigeria and Aso Rock from the claws and chains of Satan and his agents in Jesus name. Amen

  • Buhari needs God’s deliverance

    This is definitely not the Buhari we voted for! Something evil definitely has happened to this man and he his been hijacked by evil forces in aso rock as revealed by Ruben Abati. The sickness inflicted on him is part of the cause of his weakness and his not knowing what to do. Please help pray that God Almighty delivers this man from evil captivity and use him for good of the suffering masses. Its unbelievable that a man know for his strong stance against corruption will watch with his eyes and ears fully opened as his lieutenants continue to loot the nation blind. Its a very big shame. May God deliver Nigeria and Aso Rock from the claws and chains of Satan and his agents in Jesus name. Amen

    • Daniel

      Delusion is when you ever thought Buhari has plans for Nigeria to move forward.

      Let off those scales impairing your vision .

  • www.electionoffenders.ng

    Nigeria: Organized Crime Capital of The World. Am i wrong?

    The Leaders of this Organized Crime Syndicate raping the country are the leadership of this country: Am i wrong?

    Men and women with honor, dignity and love for country DO NOT run a country the way our leaders do.

    Our leaders worship only Power, Money and Self.

    The way out is to wait untill their greed sets them against themselves and they self destroy.

    They have structured Nigeria is such a way that we ,the people, can not find a way to get them out of power and free NIgeria from their evil clutches.

    This level of greed and mismanagement is NOT SUSTAINABLE. Give it a little more time; they will implode and start to fight themselves and then expose themselves. Thats when we the people will come after them

  • Repost by Popular Demand

    “I sympathise with Nigerians for voting Buhari. We have a president
    who doesn’t have a friend outside the North and that’s a tragedy. As I am
    talking to you, I am convinced that President Buhari’s presidency is dead. He
    may be physically alive and I wish him good health, but as far as governance is
    concerned, his presidency is dead and nothing can be done to resuscitate it. A
    presidency can be alive in terms of a leader, but in terms of programmes and
    achievements it can be dead and historically forgotten”.

    …………..Dr. Junaid Muhammed

    (KANO, March 5th, 2017)

  • obiora

    So the Loot has been Looted?. CHANGE.

  • Gary

    The Paris Club Refund is likely to become the Buhari regime’s equivalent of the scandal over the Abacha loot by the Jonathan government.
    There’s now official stonewalling by key public officials, including VP Osinbajo as Acting President over the EFCC’s bid to probe how the funds were disbursed to the states. Forget for now if the monies actually went into paying backlogs of workers’ salaries and pensions.
    Again, Emefiele’s CBN is implicated in doling out public funds to a private entity set up by a so-called Governors Forum , a grouping that is not constitutionally recognized to serve as a clearing house for the disbursement of funds from the federal treasury.
    It is not hard to surmise that the Paris Club refund might have become a slush fund for settling past and current sponsors of the APC election campaigns. Precisely what the PDP did with the Abacha loot. Again, the Nigerian people are getting screwed by the politicians in power.

  • Champ

    Nigerians deserve what they re served

  • Rumournaire

    I read comments here and I wonder if our people really read and understand the Nigerian Constitution. While I agree that the Federal Government owes it to Nigerians to make public what money is being shared and which state gets what, Nigerians must understand that state governors have no obligation to the president when it comes to how money allocated to states is spent. Akpabio made that point clear when the then President Obasanjo asked the SS and SE governors to give account of how they spent the billions they collected on behalf of their states each month. Akpabio insulted OBJ thoroughly, telling him it was none of his business. Akpabio accused OBJ of trying to incite their people against them.

    Nigerians need to get this clear: If state governors choose to steal money allocated to their states, the Constitution does not empower the President to intervene. Only the electorate can call their state governors to account. That is why state governors do everything they can to influence who succeeds them – it is only your successor that can spearhead your being probed. Let’s stop being emotional and sentimental. It is sad that people come online to make statements out of complete ignorance.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      The constitution did not empower anyone to steal public money or not to account for how public money was spent.
      Imputy in office does not creat a precident or a constitutional procision to follow. It is just an abuse of power.
      Accountability in public office or being help to account is one of the bueties & pride of democracy.
      You idea of how democracy should be practiced, is your own view born out of ignorance, and poor understanding of best democratic practice.

      • serubawon70

        A very jaundised reply to a thoroughly dispassionate and concise observation on a constitutional loophole. An issue raised by President Buhari on the day he was inaugurated.

        • Izedomi Ohirein

          I do not know of any sain human who could be jelous criminally insane sub-human living among our human population in one particular part of our beloved Nigeria.

      • Rumournaire

        My friend, the constitution does not empower or authorise anyone to break into your house and steal. But your neighbours notice a man breaking into your house and suspect he stole your goods while you were away. You come back home and they tell you they saw a man they know break into your house. You decide to do nothing about it. Do you think those bystanders can go to the Police to report the matter and apprehend the burglar?

        I hope you get it. Even if you saw a thief, if you – the aggrieved – do not go to the Police Station to lodge a report, absolutely nothing will be done. By the way, another person who has no evidence cannot make the report on your behalf!

        • Izedomi Ohirein

          Crime has no statute limitation.
          Those of you who see nothing wrong in stealing public money or obstruction drive for accountability & war against corruption are not helping matters.
          Looting public money is a crime against humanity. Lack of accountability is a form of impunity and abuse of power.
          You have no clue of best democratic practice. It allian to your culture & presumptions.

          • Rumournaire

            “Those of you who see nothing wrong in stealing public money or
            obstruction drive for accountability & war against corruption are
            not helping matters.”

            Who sees nothing wrong in stealing public funds? Because I tell you the legal way to bring looters to justice, you now take that to mean that I see nothing wrong with looting? You have shut your mind to knowledge, and there is no point getting into a discourse with you. Keep lamenting online and see if that brings looters to justice. Bye and out.

          • Izedomi Ohirein

            Please appreciate War against corruption, instead of criticising the efforts & want to dictate who it should be fought. We must start from somewhere – Jonathan’s maladministration.

    • Dawood

      The Buhari government is as guilty as the thieving governors if transparency is not actualized. This is the same pattern with our looted funds. After promising to release the names of looters of our treasury, the Buhari government turned tail aND has kept us in the dark since then. Shsmeful!

      • Rumournaire

        I do not hold brief for Buhari at all. In fact, I have issues with some things he has done, or failed to do. But when it comes to revealing the names of the looters, are you saying you have not been reading the names of looters in public media? EFCC makes public the names of everyone they are after, and convictions are published. Even names of suspected (unproven) looters with how much they are suspected to have stolen are already in public space. So what more names are you looking for?

    • Gary

      The Constitution also does not empower state Governors to brazenly loot their treasuries. Extra-budgetary funds from the federal government can come with strings attached as loans and other conditionalities attached; if duly approved by the National Assembly.

      And statutory bodies like the EFCC are similarly empowered to probe financial crimes in all spheres of Government. Which is why some former Governors are on trial and two jailed for embezzling public funds and money laundering.

      So there, let’s not mix apples and oranges by implying that State Governors are a law unto themselves in their domains.

      Even the immunity they enjoy covers only the LAWFUL exercise of their functions. We should hope that a government determined to fight corruption will provide an opportunity for the Judiciary to rule on the constitutionality of some of these issues.

      • Rumournaire

        If we have an issue with the constitution, that is a different matter. But it is the supreme logal instrument for governance in Nigeria today. And, it does not get changed by online sentiments!

        There are many public officers and appointees about whom many members of the public have misgivings. EFCC does not act on suspicion or misgivings. If a new state governor has a case of suspected looting against his predecessor, if he does not refer such a case to EFCC, EFCC cannot do anything about it. Wike has been accusing his predecessor Amaechi of impropriety. He set up a panel to investigate Amaechi. The panel’s report questioned some decisions Amaechi took while in office but did not say the mans stole (I read the report.). But Wike was not able to, and did not institute a case against Amaechi. So, regardless of the suspicions and media statements, EFCC would not do anything about it.

        Nigerians need to understand what they are doing when they vote. If you vote a rogue into office of the state governor, you cannot call the president to come and help you probe him. People are calling the president to solve problems they create, which are not for the president to solve.

        We should get educated and understand how the government works. Sentiment does not address any issue! When we understand how it works, then we can vote intelligently rather than come online – as some people in this forum do – to insult everyone who has a different view from you.

        • Gary

          Seems like you have set your own questions and proceeded to answer them without reference to the issues raised in my post.
          I don’t see anywhere I called on the President to probe any Governor. I was mainly focused on if due process was followed in the disbursement of the Paris Funds; an issue which falls under the ambit of the EFCC or it would not have embarked on a probe.
          Thst has nothing to do with Wike or any such red herring you have raised to imply that Stete Governors cannot be held accountable for how they spend public funds. That is simply not true. Cases do not have to be referred to the EFCC by a successor for the agency to investigate financial crimes.
          Nuhu Ribadu built a dossier and was going after serving Governors before OBJ stopped him for political considerations to gain support for his Third Term agenda. That is a fact and those involved are still alive to refute or verify my assertion in this regard.
          To wit, nothing in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests any state Governor the power to loot the public treasury unchallenged or without sanction.

          • Rumournaire

            Gary, if I seem to have set m,y own questions and answered them, it was perhaps because you, in responding to my original post, digressed from my points in that post. I made two points in that post, in reaction to comments I had read online – not to your comment:

            First, I said the president owes Nigeria transparency in the disbursement of the Paris Club funds. In that respect, I did not try to defend the president. Secondly – and this is a key point in my post, I reacted to people who called the president to deal with state governors who were collecting the funds and not accounting for how they spent it. There was absolutely nothing in my post to suggest that I was defending the governors, or that they are not accountable. My sole point is to do with who brings them to book and how.

            We would not get justice if people do not follow constitutional channels to seek justice. I have personally had a reason to take an issue to the EFCC, and it gave me an insight to how the EFCC works. That organisation does not go about probing people at random or based on media reports. They only investigate matters brought to them by the right people. My point is that we need to understand the workings of various organs of government, and follow the provisions, to get justice. EFCC is not going to arrest anyone for stealing just because we scream on these pages.

            I hope you get me clear. I believe looters should be dealt with decisively, but that is only possible if we follow due process.