By Christiana Ekpa
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has cautions against the reported approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the payment of the $418 million suspicious debt despite wide spread national objection by stakeholders, including state governors, chairmen of local governments and anti-graft agencies.
Hon. Ndudi Elumelu the Minority caucus Leader in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday, urged President Buhari to note that the consent judgement being relied upon for the payment is cloudy, opaque and raises apprehensions of huge swindle on the national treasure requires immediate investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The caucus further called on President Buhari to, “in the national interest” halt the payment processes immediately until after the investigations.
The caucus insisted that the objection raised by the Association of Local Governments in Nigeria (ALGON) and the Nigeria Governor’s 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.
“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.
“Our caucus urges President Buhari not to allow himself to be misled or entangled in this nebulous enterprise 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 the suspicious consent judgement.
“The Minority caucus demands 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 caucus maintains that the open audit should unravel those behind the consent judgment, the propriety of such measures as well as why the objection by the governors was ignored.
“This is more so as the consent judgement predicated the payment of the doubtful $418 million on deductions from allocations to states and local governments, a development that will put unwarranted burden on the already overstrained tiers of government and worsen the economic and infrastructural deficit in the country” he said.