A High Court in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has frozen the bank account of the Delta State government over a dispute surrounding the money the state received as its share of the Paris-London Club loan refund.
The court presided by Justice Y. Halilu issued an interim order, August 1, barring the state government from having access to $27.2 million and N3 billion in its account with the Zenith Bank.
The order followed a suit filed by a private firm, Mauritz Walton Nig Ltd, which claimed that the frozen sum is what was due to it as consultancy fee from the money the state received as “proceeds of the refund of excess deductions on foreign loans and miscellaneous charges (aka Paris-London Club Refund).”
Mauritz Walton Nig Ltd, according to a court document, said going by their contract with the Delta State government, they were entitled to 30 per cent of the total sum received by the state government.
Zenith Bank is a co-defendant in the suit which has been adjourned to September 7.
The court ordered the bank to set up an escrow account for the frozen fund pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
Mauritz Walton Nig Ltd, owned by a Nigerian businessman, Mauritz Ibe, is said to have assisted some state governments in computing and negotiating the refund of the excess deductions on the foreign loans.
The company and other consulting firms have been at loggerheads with the state governments over the non-payment of the consultancy fees.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Charles Aniagwu, the spokesperson to the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, he said he was not aware of the court order.
A source within the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Abuja, told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday, that there were hundreds of consultants who at first were demanding between 10 to 30 per cent of whatever money was due to state governments.
In order to create an ease, the NGF brought together all the consultants and collapsed into three big consultants, the source said.
The source, who did not want his name mentioned in the report, said that the state governors had complained against the consultancy fees as being too high before they eventually agreed to pay a uniform 1.5 per cent to all the consultants.
“Don’t forget that some states have had like about three (successive) governors since the negotiations for the refund started,” the source said.
“In some states, you could have a governor go into a generous agreement to pay as much as 30 per cent to a consultant.”
The source, who revealed that the NGF has also had its bank accounts frozen because of court cases with several people, said although the states were having challenges because of the paucity of funds, it was erroneous to think that the consultants did not do anything to merit the payment of fees to them.
He mentioned an instance where a consultant said he had to deploy the Freedom of Information Law to get information on the exact amount of money that was due to a particular state.