FG Tackles State Governors Over Excess Crude Account
... Supreme Court Gives More Room for Out-of Court Settlement
SAN FRANCISCO, May 09, (THEWILL) – The face-off between the Federal Government and 36 state governors over deductions from the Excess Crude Account to fund the Sovereign Wealth has taken a new dimension, as the Federal Governor has declared that it was ready to tackle the governors in court.
The declaration followed the breakdown of the out-of-court settlement arrangement agreed upon by the two parties in the case.
On Thursday, the governors had told the Supreme Court that the Federal Government was not sincere about the proposed out-of-court settlement and requested for a hearing date to thrash the legal issues involved on their merits.
But the Federal Government fired back as it told the apex court that the state governors were being economical with the truth.
Leading the Federal Government's defense team in the suit was the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who told the court that it was not true that progress was not made in the out of court negotiation.
He said the governors would however not be wrong if they claimed that the progress made was not appreciable by their assessment.
Olanipekun (SAN) who led Chief Chris Alege (SAN) and some junior counsel however said if given time, the matter could be resolved amicably.
But when Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) who spoke for the 36 governors was repeatedly urging the court to allow them open trial in the case, Chief Olanipekun (SAN) also told the court that the Federal Government was ready for the governors.
Disclosing that the defense team had already filed an application seeking to dismiss the entire case, Olanipekun,who had earlier told the court that the matter in contention was political and that the court should give the parties more time to explore further solutions. said the Federal Government was not afraid of engaging the state governors "law for law, facts for facts."
But as Awomolo insisted that the matter before the court is a constitutional one and not political, the full panel of the Supreme Court agreed with Olanipekun and urged parties to settle the matter out of court.
Justice Walter Onnonoghen who presided over the seven member panel said there was nothing constitutional about money sharing but negotiation.
He urged them to further explore further opportunities to resolve the matter amicably.
The court consequently fixed December 2 for report of settlement or hearing in the case if they could not settle.
Onnonoghen however told them to ensure they settle the matter before the next adjourned date.