Buhari Suspends Planned $418m Paris Club Deductions

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By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to suspend plans to begin the deduction of the $418 million Paris Club refund allegedly owed four contractors from the federation account.

In an exclusive report on Tuesday evening, Premium Times reported that the president gave the directive at the FEC meeting on August 3, where the matter was extensively discussed.

This is coming after months of a tussle between the central government and state governors, who have always kicked against the Paris Club deductions.

At the FEC meeting last Wednesday, the newspaper said that Mrs Ahmed and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami tabled a memo asking the cabinet to approve the restart of the deductions from funds due to states from the federation account.

It was also revealed that the governors had separately written to all ministers explaining their position and seeking their intervention to stop the planned deduction being vigorously pushed by the Ministers of Justice and Finance.

The publication made it known that after Mrs Ahmed and Mr Malami made their presentations, they were immediately fiercely countered in quick succession by the Minister of Works, Mr Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and two other cabinet members, the newspaper cited.

The FEC members who spoke against the deduction were said to have told the meeting that it would be sub-judicial for any payment to be made to the contractors while cases are pending in courts.

Against the backdrop of the arguments advanced by the Ministers, Mr Buhari was said to have spoken in support of them, adding that the planned deductions being allegedly championed by both Mr Malami and Mrs Ahmed be suspended until the courts make their final pronouncements.

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