Monday, 20 September, 2021

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$151m Paris Club refund: Why I reported Abia to EFCC, by Witness


Group Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Mauritz Walton Nig. Ltd, Dr. Maurice Ibe, told a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Kubwa why he reported some alleged shady activities of Abia State Government and its officials to the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ibe, while testifying in the case filed against Abia Government by his company, stated that the State Government allegedly recruited a third party to claim the financial benefit of the contract Mauritz Walton executed with the aim of denying his firm its due benefits.

Mauritz Walton sued Abia government for allegedly failing to pay it an agreed 30per cent of the $151,410,816.39 it helped recovered from the Federal Government as refund of the over deduction from Abia foreign loan portfolio by the Federal Government.

Under cross-examination by lawyer to Ziplon Concept, Jeff Njikeonye (SAN), Ibe confirmed he was engaged by former Governor Theodore Orji to determine, reconcile and recover the debt owed Abia State by the Federal Government by virtue of the over-deduction made against the state in relation to foreign loan repayment.

Ibe said after his company executed the contract and started making demand for the payment of its due 30 percent of the recovered sum, Abia government brought in Ziplon Concept (sued as the fourth defendant) and claimed that it had renegotiated with it (Ziplon) to carry out the job for the state.

“My Lord, the 4th defendant wrote to the plaintiff that the state government will accept to pay the fee, if he accepts a 40/60 percent sharing formula.

“The Abia State government offered N250m to me and the 4th defendant (Ziplon) in the presence of Jeff Njikonye (counsel to the 4th defendant), and representatives of Government of Abia state.

“In the meeting, it was revealed that Ziplon had already been paid the sum of N100m and the issue became of what happens to the N250m offered.

“The then Accountant General of Abia State was shocked to learn that I did not know that N100m had been disbursed to Ziplon.

“If I recall vividly, counsel to the 4th defendant interjected and said the N100m was given to the former governor.

“At that point, I told him, I will not be part of money laundering for any individual or entity because of my career and profession.

“I proceeded to write a petition to the EFCC against the Abia state government and some of its officials. Investigation is ongoing,” Ibe said.

The witness said he rejected the offer because “it was with bad intent, deceitful and in bad fate, and I did not even consider it”.

He told the court that all he needed and had asked the Abia State Government and the 4th defendant (Ziplon) to do, is for them to provide him, “be it a sheet of paper, documents etc that showed the 4th defendant did a legitimate job as per recovery of the excess deductions.

Ibe added: “If they do, we can then know how to apply sharing formula, but till today, no evidence, not even a single piece of paper has been presented as work product”.

In the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/2470/2017, filed Charles Ude, the plaintiff is seeking the order of the court to make Abia government pay Mauritz Walton Nig.Ltd, the sum of N12bn being consulting fee for the Paris Club Refund Abia State debt reconciliation with the Federal Government.

The firm said Abia government had engaged it to pursue the refund of excess deductions on foreign loans and miscellaneous charges in exchange of certain percent of any fund recovered.

Mgid

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