The Cross River State Government has reacted to the freezing of its Paris-Club refund bank account by an FCT High Court presided over by Justice Yusuf Halilu.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong, said the state governor, Ben Ayade, has not paid a dime to any family member, girlfriend, or crony in the guise of settling the consultants who aided in the collection of the Paris Club Refunds.
It could be recalled that Justice Halilu had ordered the freezing of the state’s Paris and London Club Debit Refund account amid allegations that governor Ayade preferred payment to family members, girlfriends, and cronies in the guise of settling the fees for consultancy services at the expense of the real consultant progenitor of the Paris-London Club Refund.
According to the Finance Commissioner, all the monies collected were applied for the payment of salaries, gratuities and pension arrears with no consultant paid so far.
Ekpenyong stated this while addressing journalists on the matter.
He said: “It is important to state that some of the information I have seen online; the state has not paid any consultant whatsoever. Cross River State has not paid any consultant for the Paris Club (refund).
“The Paris Club (refund) was used strictly for the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities.
“If you want a clear breakdown of the expenditure, that can even be given so the claims in the public domain that some consultants have been paid; I can tell you specifically that no consultant has been paid,”
The Commissioner wondered why a consultant was needed for business transacted between the federal and state government.
He said: “Some people claimed that they are the consultants to the state government for the purpose of recovering or reconciling between the federal government and the state government.
“If the second tier of government is subnational, do you really need a consultant to come in and reconcile?”
He reiterated his stance that no consultant has been paid a dime and described as “interesting” how the ex-parte order could be given without the state been served a court order.
“From what I have seen in the public space is that the state has been paying consultants. Cross River State has not paid any consultant a dime for the Paris Club Refund.
“This man says he is a consultant, now we are asking for better and more suited information on that, then the man takes people to court. It doesn’t make any sense.
“It is interesting how a High Court could give such a ruling without even inviting the state,” Ekpenyong said.