22nd May, 2012
Following the collapse of the Federal Government’s proposed out of court settlement in the disputed N1 billion deducted from the Excess Crude Account to fund the Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF, the Supreme Court on Monday fixed 25 September, 2012 for definite hearing of a case instituted by the 36 states of the federation.
The states are challenging the legality of the Federal Government’s transfer of the said amount to the Sovereign Wealth Funds.
The Presidency had earlier asked the Supreme Court for an adjournment to enable it explore the out of court settlement option with the 36 state governments.
At today’s proceeding, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, representing the state governments, told the court that it was unfortunate that the out of court settlement option was not successful despite the efforts of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).
Consequently, he asked the apex court panel headed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, to go ahead and hear the preliminary objection alongside the substantive suit and decide the matter.
He also told the court that the Federal Government had threatened to withdraw more money from the fund thereby further depleting the bulk sum and that expeditious determination of the suit was necessary for both parties.
He further urged the court to call counsel to Federal Government, Mr. Austine Alegeh, also a senior advocate of Nigeria, to enter undertaking that his client would not withdraw more monies from the said excess crude account.
Mr. Alegeh, on behalf of the Federal Government, also made a similar request asking that Chief Awomolo should make an undertaking that the state governments would not be seeking more monies from the account in issue.
Awomolo told the court about the desire of his clients to still listen to the Federal Government for further talks on the out of court settlement option if approached.
The state governments had earlier accused the Federal Government of insincerity in its promise to settle the case out of court.