Paris Club Refund: Court Freezes Delta’s $27.2 Mn, N3 Bn ***As Delta Govt Plans Necessary Legal Action

Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA: 

Delta state government, on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 reacted to a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court order freezing the state’s Paris-London Club Refund bank accounts as a result of a dispute surrounding the money received as its share of the Paris-London Club loan refund.

The court presided by Justice Y. Halilu, had issued an interim order, 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, a co-defendant in the suit which has been adjourned to September 7, 2017 was also ordered the court to set up an escrow account for Delta state’s frozen fund pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.

The Court, acting on the affidavit in support of an ex-parte originating summons to, in the interim, stop further disbursement of the money already in or accruing to the Paris-London Club Refund account also ordered the freezing of the accounts of Abia and Cross River states.

When Blank NEWS Online contacted the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, he said “It’s a court issue and I cannot make a comment on it”, while the phones of the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor were switched off.

But Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Tuesday, told Blank NEWS Online that “The consultant that was engaged by the former administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan to do consultancy with respect to the funds did not continue because when we came in in 2015, we found that we cannot continue with that engagement because for obvious reasons, it was not going to serve the interest of the people as the firm was asking for more than 30 percent.

“Since 2015, we did not have any engagement with him and the persons who helped us to work out the mathematics of outstanding to Delta state with respect to the over deductions was able to do the job in 2015 and 2016. So, we got our money. It was when he discovered that we have collected our money that he decided to go to court to file an ex-parte motion.

“Of course, we are a law abiding state. Our legal department headed by the Attorney General is already studying the judgment with a view to taking necessary legal action.”

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 government over the non-payment of the consultancy fees.

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E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka

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Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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