By Caleb Ayansina
ABUJA – The Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, has described as malicious, a media report alleging the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, members of the Forum and its Director General, Mr. Asishana Okaru of pocketing part of the Paris loan refund to Nigeria.
The report by one of the prominent online media had alleged Saraki of accomplishing the deal in connivance with the DG of the Forum, Asishana Okaru and the Forum’s consultant.
A statement signed by the Forum’s consultant, Dr Kayode Ajulo, in Abuja, said the report was nothing but a bunch of lies, wandering what the author wanted to achieve.
The statement reads: “While not holding brief for the Senate President, it is on record that the said disbursement was a recent happening in 2017, 6 years after his tenure as the Governor of Kwara State and Chairman of the Forum.
“One would have expected the said platform to substantiate their claims about the disbursement and how the said funds were paid into private accounts as claimed instead of the mudslinging they are doing.
“If there is a grouse to settle with one person, that doesn’t mean it should be done in a messy way to include those that legitimately carry out their duty should not have been dragged blindly into what they didn’t know anything about the said private and personal enrichment as alleged by the medium.
“The Director General of Governors forum was not at any point in time arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even though the medium tried to make us feel he was invited and later released because he has once worked in the financial intelligence unit of the commission thus he was allowed to go without writing any statement.
“The question to ask is how does that sound to any sane mind? Is Mr. Okaru above the law that he will only walk into EFCC custody and be allowed to go without been asked any question not to even talk of writing statement? If that is what really happened, which is not anyway it shows that the commission has first-hand information about the said fund and the way it was disbursed thus didn’t see need to ask him for further clarifications.”
Ajulo, who is an Abuja Based Lawyer, expressed dismay that the erroneous allegation misinformed the public of a ‘phony consultant’ was handed the money consequent upon which a 5% deduction was effected therefrom.
“It is a ruse and nothing like that ever happened. As a matter of fact, it was the consultant that discovered wrong claims and made a push for the correct payment. Records are there for all to see, and it is a public document wherein each allocation for the various states were done based on laid down formula and this was not at any time paid into personal account of any of the Governors.
“This said fund, recently disbursed has enabled some Governors settle back lock of salaries which reduced hunger in the states. It is of interests also to note that as at the time President Buhari directed Debt Management Office to look into the claims made by states after which directives was given for the states to be paid, the Senate President was no longer a sitting Governor, as he was Chairman of the forum eight years ago.
“As a consultant to the forum, we frown at this wrong perception and rumour as it is enough to tarnish the image of the forum. The medium in question should be cautious of slander and libellous write ups because if this is not guided against, we might be forced to look the legal option to enforce the right of our client and clear air on the erroneous matter,” he concluded.
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