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HURIWA to FG: Do not pay balance of Paris Club refunds until May 29

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The Human Rights Writers Association(HURIWA), has advised the Federal Government not to pay states the final refund from the Paris Club debt until after the swearing in of newly elected governors in May 29.

Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator of the association, gave the advice in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

He recalled that the Federal Government recently announced that it would soon release the sum of N649.43bn as the final refund for the Paris Club debt to state governments.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, gave the figure on Thursday, during a media briefing on the ministry’s activities.

The finance minister had maintained that the amount had already been verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded to state governments.

Onwubiko, however, said that any payment made into state accounts before the May 29 swearing in date may be siphoned by the outgoing governors.

He advised that the federal government should, where possible, directly disburse the fund to civil servants and pensioners owed accumulated wages in states like Imo and Kogi, among others.

He alleged that the governors had reportedly misused previous refund made to them and did not settle the wages of their workforce.

This, he said, was despite directive from the Federal Government that benefiting states must utilise the cash to pay off accumulated wage bills in their states.

Onwubiko further alleged that most state governors misused and misapplied the earlier fund given and never paid off their workers.

According to him, the federal government runs the risk of exposing the commonwealth of the mentioned states to be looted as “last minutes’ bonanza” at these moments of transition from one administration to another.

“We hope that President Muhammadu Buhari has not reached an understanding with some of these governors to release these humongous amount of cash to some of them as parting gifts,”  he said.

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