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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Paris Club Refund Scandal: Senate President Saraki, Governors Put Magu Under Severe Pressure

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Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has come under immense pressure from Senate President Bukola Saraki and several state governors who want him to deny that the commission is investigating them for pocketing billions of naira from the Paris Club loan refunds to the states, SaharaReporters has learnt. 
Yesterday, we reported that the officials collected the money, which was approved by the Federal Government to reimburse the states for excessive charges to them for loans of international organizations, including the Paris Club. 

The pressure on Mr. Magu, who is having a hard time getting the Senate to confirm him as
substantive EFCC Chairman, manifested in a statement today denying our story headlined “Nigerian State Governors, Senate President Saraki Pocketed Billions of Naira from Paris Loan Refund.” 
That SaharaReporters report gave a detailed account of how Mr. Saraki and the governors, using phony consultants hired by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, pocketed huge sums of money.  Mr. Saraki was paid N2.5million, while some governors collected as much as N400million each.
SaharaReporters learnt that a Nigerian businessman Hassan Dambaba, who is also the Magaji Ngari Sokoto embezzled as much as N2.5billion from the Paris/London Club refund
In the statement issued by the EFCC today, the commission denied that it indicted all the governors of the 36 states of the Federation and Mr. Saraki in the investigation of the reimbursement.
“The Commission wishes to state unequivocally, that no state governor or Senate President has been indicted so far by the investigation which is still at a preliminary stage,” the agency said.  “Also, insinuations about cover up by some officials of the Commission are untrue as there is no incentive to do so.”
SaharaReporters dismisses the claim by the EFCC that the investigations are still at the preliminary stage.  In any event, our initial report made no mention of an "indictment."
Contrary to the official claim by the EFCC, authoritative sources told SaharaReporters that N2.5billion has already been traced to Mr. Saraki, who has promised Mr. Magu accelerated confirmation as EFCC Chairman if he squelches the current scandal.
The Paris loan refunds were illegally routed through the account of the Nigeria Governors Forum by the Central Bank of Nigeria.  Upon receiving the funds, the NGF, through its chairman, Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari, began remitting huge sums to private consultants who then laundered it for the state governors.
The Governors claimed they were deducting monies spent on electing President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) into office.
Already, the governors have embezzled N19.5billion from the Paris Club refunds to state governments. The scam is one of the largest financial scandals in recent years by Nigeria’s 36 state governors according to investigators.