Paris Club Loan Refund Scandal: Nigerian Youths Demand Probe

Abuja, March 7, 2017 (TNE): The last may not have been heard of the reported scandal involving billions of Naira in Paris Club Loan Refund that was allegedly stolen by Governors, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and a Nigerian businessman.

A notable umbrella group for Nigerian youths, Youths For Change Nigeria, has urged the Federal Government to urgently launch a probe into the scandal, the news of which was broken by a popular
online news portal.

In demanding the probe, the National Leader of the group, Mr. Seun Bobade, described the scandal as ”a test of the anti-corruption stance of the Buhari-led administration”.

”The probe would unravel whether indeed funds that should have been used by the states to pay workers’ salaries, which are in arrears in many states, and provide much-needed social amenities for the people, have found their way into individual pockets, as claimed in media reports on the refund.

“Going by the reports, some governors pocketed as much as N400 million each and the Senate President at least N3.5 billion, among others.

If true, this is very disheartening and the Federal Government must get to the bottom of it. As a government acclaimed for its anti-corruption stance, it is imperative that this kind of alleged shameful
embezzlement be probed rather than swept under the carpet.”Investigations by The Nigerian Expression confirmed that indeed, much sleaze surrounds the loan refund.

Here are the highlights of what we have found out so far:

1. The whole issue of the loan refund may have been orchestrated by the Senate President, in line with the practice when he was the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, with a view to squirreling into private pockets a large chunk of the refund2. The Senate President then sold the idea to the present Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Gov. Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara State.

3. Some 5 per cent of the refunds was allegedly earmarked for ”consultants”, even though the 5 per cent ended up being paid into the NGF account

4. The Senate President may have indeed benefitted to the tune of N3.5 billion, which was converted to US Dollars. A source said the money has been traced to a Jeweler in Dubai

5. Some N2 billion from the slush funds was used to finance the election of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, with a Minister being fingered as the purser.

The Senate President has denied any involvement in the Paris Club Loan Refund saga, calling attempts to link him with the scandal ”’sheer blackmail and character assassination”.

For its part, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dissociated itself from the report but acknowledged that investigation into the scandal was ongoing.

”The Commission had previously issued a statement that its investigation is at a preliminary stage, and promised to brief the media subsequently. But it seems a section of the press is impatient
and will pre-empt the investigation with spurious claims,” the EFCC said in a statement.

Some analysts interviewed by The Nigerian Expression, however, said there is no smoke without a fire, and that the likelihood of a slush funds scandal over the refund is very high.

”But the only way to get to the bottom of the issue is for the Federal Government to order a probe into the scandal. Anything short of that will be a cover up,” an analyst said.(TNE)

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