Govs Sue FG, Ask S' Court To Block $1B Sovereign Wealth Fund Deposit
…Withdrawal From Excess Crude Account
ABUJA, October 24, (THEWILL) – The fight over Nigeria’s oil wealth has again gone back to the Supreme Court as state Governors have asked the apex court to block the withdrawal of $1 billion dollars from the contentious Excess Crude Account to fund the federal government’s also contentious Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Recall that Nigerian state Governors under the powerful and influential Nigeria Governors’ Forum have continued to question the legality of the Excess Crude Account. The governors have maintained that all revenue accruing to the government of Nigeria should be paid into the Federation Account.
In an application made before the Supreme Court Monday, the Governors have asked the court to restrain the federal government from making any withdrawals howsoever from the account styled the “Excess Crude Account” (or any account replacing same by any name howsoever) pending the hearing and determination of a suit it instituted against the federal government in 2008.
In the application filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, the governors also urged the apex court to grant an order that all sums standing to the credit of the account styled the “Excess Crude Account” (or any account replacing same by any name howsoever) be paid into court or be otherwise secured as the court may deem fit pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
The governors’ application was supported with an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mr. Ephraim Ajijola, a lawyer in the chambers of Awomolo.
The governors said they were forced back to the apex court following the federal government’s continued withdrawal of funds from the Excess Crude Account without regard to the pending suit. They added that the federal government has almost nearly depleted the sum of N5.51 trillion being the balance on the account as at 2008 when the case was first instituted.
“The conduct of the Government of the Federation and her officials is a violation of the principle of the Rule of Law and breach of the Independence of the Judiciary and constitutes a violation of the principle of Rule of Law handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of Governor of Lagos V Odumegu Ojukwu (1986) pt 1 NSCC 304 and Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi V INEC (2008) 5 NWLR (PT 1080) 277,” the governors stated in their application, adding that the only way to stop the federal government’s continued withdrawals and depleting of the account is for the apex court to issue an order stopping the FG and its officials.
“It is in the Interest of Justice, preservation of integrity of the Supreme Court and the Rule of Law that this application be granted,” the governors prayed in their application.
Recall that after the governors’ initial suit against the federal government in 2008, both parties tried to settle their dispute outside the apex court and reached a deal but for some undisclosed reason the terms of the deal were not implemented nor was it entered as judgement in the Supreme Court, forcing both parties to return to the apex court.
The Supreme Court however agreed to hear the suit and urged both parties to exchange briefs. But curiously, the apex court did not sit for the trial as scheduled and the case has remained unscheduled till date.