Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A legal firm has threatened to sue the Rivers State government over non payment of commission on N100 billion recovered from the excess deduction of the state loan by the federal government.
The said amount is part of the $462.593 billion said to be excess deductions from the Paris Club by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The firm, Messrs J.O. Atunbi & Co, has claimed that it was engaged since 2014 by the Rivers State Government to recover the said $426.593 billion from the Federal Government.
The firm had pressed for the loan refunds during the tenure of former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala under former President Goodluck Jonathan, until President Muhammadu Buhari started to pay the state in trances
It further claimed that the Rivers has received no less N100 billion refund as at July 17, 2017 based on the submissions it made to the Federal Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Office.
The firm also claims that since the said recovery, the state has allegedly refused to pay its consulting commission on the refund.
According to Atunbi, the decision to sue the Rivers State Government stemmed from the uncorporative attitude of the state government and its refusal to pay the firm its commission “after helping the state to track, reconcile and recover over N100 billion out of the $462.593 billion said to be excess deductions from the state’s loans by the Federal Government.”
Atunbi claimed to have written several reminders to the state government demanding the payment of its commission – without success, it says.
“Several reminders to the state were ignored. For instance, one of the letters, dated July 18, 2017, reminded the state government of execution of the contractual agreement with the firm.
“We diligently executed the contract per the letter of engagement, finalized the reconciliation and submitted both the interim reports, progress reports and final report on the completion of the work.
“A demand of USD$462,593,183.07 was made on behalf of Rivers State to Hon. Minister Finance, DG, DMO, The Office of the Accountant General.”
Meanwhile, the letter of engagement written by Rivers government to the Messrs J.O. Atunbi & Co., dated March 1, 2014, and titled: “Re: Back Duty Reconciliation and Recovery of Excess Deductions on Foreign Loans on Behalf of Rivers State Government Letter of Engagement,” was signed by Chamberlain S. Peterside, PhD, then Commissioner of Finance in the state.
The letter reads in part:
“With reference to your proposal for recovery of excess deduction in respect of foreign loans, we are pleased to offer you consultancy appointment under the following terms and conditions;
“That Messrs J.O.Atunbi & Co. (Chartered Accountants)…is authorized to review all foreign loans contracted by Rivers State for the purpose of recovering excess deductions on behalf of Rivers State Government.
“That such report of such recoveries will be made available to the Ministry of Finance (hereinafter referred to as Government);
“That all recoveries made in respect of this assignment will be paid into an account designated by the Accountant General, Rivers State.
“That an 18℅ Commission charge on reconciled and recovered amount will be paid to the consultant.”