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NDDC: N'Delta Monarchs Drag FG To Court Over Alleged. N500bn Rip Off

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, April 15, (THEWILL) â€' The Federal Government has been dragged to court over alleged N500billion rip off.

Traditional rulers from the oil producing states of the Niger Delta who dragged the Federal Government before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday alleged that the Federal Government has shortchanged the people of the states by refusing to pay its counterpart fund to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDCC).

The Executive Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of the Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), His Royal Majesty Eze Raphael Akuwueze Ikegwuruka, said at the court that youth restiveness would be drastically reduced if the Federal honoured its obligation.

Though the suit could not be heard because the court did not sit,Ikegwuruka disclosed that the traditional rulers met and decided to exploit a legal means to fight their cause, saying 21 of them had filed the suit demanding the release of a whopping N500bn meant for the development of the Niger Delta.

He disclosed that the amount that was, meant for disbursement to the NDDC between 2001 and 2009, was withheld by the Federal Government since the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

'it has become public knowledge that since the establishment of the Commission in 2001 to date, there has been violations of the funding provisions of the Act by the various contributors to the fund.

'Not all the oil and gas producing and processing companies have complied with the provisions of the Act.

'Of greatest worry to us as the custodians of the social and cultural values of our people is the failure of the Federal Government to comply with the funding provisions as stipulated in the Act.

'We cannot be under democratic rule while the rule of law is jettisoned overboard. Since 2011 we have been in court to compel compliance by the Federal Government with the funding provisions of the Act.

'We appeal to all our subjects in the Niger delta region to remain calm as we seek the only civilised option in this our collective quest for social, economic and environmental justice for the oil bearing communities in Nigeria,' he stated.

Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance, the Finance Ministry and the NDDC referred to as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respondents respectively.

The plaintiffs in their writ of summons filed by their counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, are praying the court for 'a declaration that the acts of the 2nd and 3rd defendants in non disbursement of the sum of N484, 450, 551, 137.91 from the Federation Account being part of the statutory funding contribution to the NDDC between 2001 and 2009 was unlawful and ultra vires the powers of the 2nd and 3rd defendants.'

They are also praying for an order of court directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to remit the sum of N484, 450, 551, 137.91 to the 4th defendants being the difference between the statutorily generated 15 per cent total amount from the Federation Account, as prescribed in the NDDC (Establishment, Etc) Act, between 2001 and 2009.

They also want an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants from further withholding the said amount of N484, 450, 551, 137.91 and any other statutory allocation due for disbursement for the speedy development of the oil mineral producing communities of the Niger Delta States of the Federation.

In justifying their claim, the plaintiffs attached a-24 paragraph statement of claims to their writ, wherein they averred that 'between 2001 and 2009, the 2nd and 3rd defendants (Finance Minister and Finance Ministry) released the sum of N202, 202, 568, 107.00 only as funds contribution from the Federation Account to the NDDC out of a total of N686, 653, 441, 244.92 being the actual 15 per cent statutory allocation which ought to have been paid from the Federation Accounts to the 4th Defendants (NDDC).'

They averred that the difference of N484, 450, 551, 137. 91 out of the said total of N686, 653, 441, 244.92 had not been remitted to the NDDC between 2001 and 2009 by the 2nd and 3rd defendants, whose statutory duties was to do so.

They further averred that the effect of the non release of these funds had stagnated development and had crippled the NDDC in carrying out its statutory obligations to the communities in the Niger Delta region.

In addition, they also averred that the non release of these funds for the development of this area led to youth restiveness, rise in crime rate, militancy, kidnapping, joblessness and lack of social amenities: clean water, health care, roads, markets and food in the Niger Delta region.

The plaintiffs averred that if the stated sum of N484, 450, 551,137.91 had been released to the NDDC it would have bettered the living conditions of the people living in the Niger Delta region.

'If the money is released, it will go a long way in solving the perennial problems and crisis bedevilling the region,' they further averred.