JUST IN:Court orders Buhari pay Rivers, Akwa Ibom $3.37billion

Muhammadu-Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari: his govt ordered to pay Rivers, Akwa Ibom $3.37b
President Muhammadu Buhari: his govt ordered to pay Rivers, Akwa Ibom $3.37b
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Buhari Government to pay Rivers and Akwa Ibom states $3,372,963,196.

Rivers will get $1,114,551,610.00 and Akwa-Ibom $2,258,411,586.

The money is the entitlement of Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States, based on the subsisting decision of the Supreme Court over production sharing contracts arising from the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin oil Production Sharing Contracts.

Justice Taiwo, delivered the judgment on Tuesday in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/174/2021 filed by the Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom against the Attorney General of the Federation.

In 2016 Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States through their Attorneys-General sued the Federal Government, represented by the Attorney General of the Federation at the Supreme Court in Suit No: SC.964/2016.

The three states sought a declaration that there is a statutory obligation imposed on the Defendant (the Federal Government) pursuant to Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore Inland Basin Production Sharing Act, Cap.D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, to adjust the share of the Federation in the additional revenue accruing under the Production Sharing Contracts if the price of crude oil at any time exceeds twenty dollars ( $20.00USD) per barrel.

The States asked the court to declare that the failure of the Defendant to accordingly adjust the share of the Government of the Federation in the additional revenue in the Production Sharing Contracts (variously approved by the Defendant) following the increase of price of crude oil in excess of twenty dollars (20.00USD) per barrel in real terms, constitute a breach of the said Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act and has therefore affected the total revenue accruing to the Federation.

They argued that following the rules, the court should issue a consequential order compelling the Defendant to adjust the share of the Government of the Federation in the additional revenue under all the Production Sharing Contracts in Nigeria’s Oil Industry within the Inland Water Basin Deep Offshore areas as approved by the Defendant from the respective times the price of crude oil exceeded twenty dollars ($20.00USD) per barrel in real terms and to calculate in arrears with effect from August 2003 and recover and pay immediately all outstanding statutory allocations due and payable to the Plaintiffs arising from the said adjustments.

At the Supreme Court, the Attorney- General of the Federation opted for an out of Court settlement and consequently, terms of settlement were duly drawn up by the parties and entered as the judgment of the Court.

The judgment specifically stated that the reliefs in the amended originating summons relating to the larger interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the entire citizenry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be diligently implemented.

It was also agreed that the Attorney General of the Federation, working jointly with the Plaintiffs should undertake to immediately set up a body and the necessary mechanism for recovery of all lost revenue accruing to the Federation Account in the past and up till the date of full recovery and accruing in future or an acceptable instalmental payments thereof within ninety (90) days next from the date of execution of these presents or its being made judgement of the Court.

Following the judgement of the Supreme Court and in compliance therewith the Attorney General of the Federation, the Defendant, constituted a body to determine the respective liabilities including the amount due to oil mineral producing States as derivation proceeds.

The Report of that body stated among others that Rivers is entitled to $1,114,551,610.00 and Akwa Ibom $2,258,411,586 as Derivation proceeds.

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However, Attorney General of the Federation without recourse to the Governments of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States unilaterally claimed to have settled with International Oil Companies (IOCs).

And it was this unilateral action on the part of the Attorney General of the Federation, the Defendant in the judgment of the Supreme Court that led to the Plaintiffs, that is, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, to file the Suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Based on the suit filed by the State, the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared that Rivers and Akwa Ibom States were entitled to the claims.

The court also awarded a post judgment interest of 10% in favour of the Plaintiffs until the final liquidation of the judgement.

BAYELSA STATE

On Monday Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the Federal Government to pay $951 million to the Bayelsa State Government.

Ekwo held that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the sole defendant in the case, failed to enter his defence in the suit.

Justice Ekwo ruled that the development made the court to declare the plaintiff’s case “unchanged.”

Ken Njemanze filed the suit on behalf of the Bayelsa government. The plaintiff, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/175/2012 and filed on February 12, urged the court to compel the AGF to pay five per cent of $50 billion recovered as additional revenue that accrued to the Federal Government.

Bayelsa State Attorney General in an affidavit upon which the plaintiff’s claims were based urged the court to make the following orders:

“An order directing the defendant (AGF) to pay the sum of $951,190, 840.00, being the 13 per cent derivative sum due as arrears of revenue and payable to Bayelsa as assessed, completed and calculated by the body set up by the AGF pursuant to paragraph b (iii) (b) of the terms of settlement made by the (consent) judgment of the court by the Supreme Court in suit No: SC 964/2016 Attorney General of Rivers State and Others Vs Attorney General of the Federation on October 17, 2018. This is in addition to 10 per cent post-judgment interest at the court rate on the said sum of $951, 190, 840.00, until final liquidation thereof.”

The judge noted that where a person issues a letter of demand on another person upon outstanding facts, the person for whom the demand notice was issued must take steps to react to same.

“Where the person to whom such demand notice is issued takes no steps, he is deemed to have admitted the claims thereby giving the other person the option of enforcing the claims by the available procedures for enforcement of undisputed claims. That is what has happened in this case,” the judge held.