The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has cautioned against the reported approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the payment of the $418 million debt despite widespread objection by stakeholders, including state governors, chairmen of local governments and anti-graft agencies.
It, therefore, called on President Buhari to, “in the national interest,” immediately halt the payment processes until after investigations.
The Reps caucus said the consent judgement being relied upon for the payment “is cloudy, opaque and raises apprehensions of huge swindle on the national treasure” which requires immediate investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It insisted that the objection raised by the Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON) and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in calling for forensic audit into the claims by the creditors must be taken into consideration.
“This is essentially because governance is a collective responsibility of all tiers and as such all views must be considered before such decisions are reached and implemented,” it noted.
“As lawmakers, our caucus insists that the approval to funnel out $418 million out of the national treasure under such hazy consent judgment and in the absence of the forensic audit smacks of an endorsement of corruption,” it declared.
The caucus advised President Buhari not to allow himself to be misled but to listen to the state governors and allow for the audit, particularly on the particulars of claims by creditors as well as the circumstances leading to what it described as the suspicious consent judgement.
In a statement by the Minority Leader, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, the Minority Caucus demanded that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice should avail himself of the audit to bring the processes and circumstances surrounding the judgment debt to public glare.
The open audit, it stressed, should unravel those behind the consent judgment, the propriety of such measures as well as why the objection by the governors was ignored.