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Court orders FG to pay $1.638bn derivative arrears to Delta state

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Monday, ordered the Federal Government to pay $1,638 billion to the Delta State.

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Donatus Okorowo, said it was satisfied that the amount was 13 per cent derivative sum due as arrears of revenue payable to the oil-rich state.

It granted all the reliefs that were sought by Plaintiff, stressing that the suit, being an action instituted to recover revenue accruing to the Delta State government, qualified for the undefended list.

Justice Okorowo declared the suit as “unchallenged”.

Delta state had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/660/2012, which it filed through Chief Ken Njemanze, SAN, urged the court to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, to pay five per cent of $50billion recovered as additional revenue that accrued to the Nigerian government.

It prayed the court to, “direct the Defendant (AGF) to pay the sum of $ 1,638,396,277.00 (One billion, six hundred and thirty-eight million, three hundred and ninety-six thousand, two hundred and seventy-seven United States dollars) being the 13% derivative sum due as arrears of revenue payable to Delta State as assessed.

“A consequential order of this court compelling the defendant to net off and pay five per cent of the said sum as per clause 3.0(v) of the defendant’s letter of engagement dated 12 April, 2018 and clause 3.0(v) the defendant’s further letter of engagement dated 19 November, 2018, pursuant to clause lll(d) of the terms of settlement made the (consent) judgement by the Supreme Court”

As well as, “10% post judgment interest at court rate on the said $ 1,638,396,277.00 (One billion, six hundred and thirty-eight million, three hundred and ninety-six thousand, two hundred and seventy-seven United States dollars) to the plaintiff until final liquidation thereof.”

However, the AGF, in a counter-affidavit he filed before the court, sought the dismissal of the suit which he said lacked competence.

In the affidavit that was deposed to by one Thomas Etah, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, the AGF, argued that Delta State was not a party in the terms of settlement in a similar revenue derivation suit between the Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers State governments delivered by the Supreme Court.

He contended that it would not serve the interest of justice to grant the Plaintiff’s claim against the Defendant without full hearing of the matter.

“That the terms of settlement in question have been entered as judgement of the court between the parties before the court,” the AGF argued.

In a preliminary objection dated September 22, 2021, the AGF, further challenged jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain the suit.

He argued that under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the High Court, lacked the powers to adjudicate between a State and the Federation.

“The subject matter of this suit is a dispute between the Delta State as a State and the Federation.

“That the subject matter relates to the recovery of revenue accruing to the federation account, the beneficiaries of which are the Federation and the States of the Federation.

“That the subject matter of this suit is not to be commenced by way of undefended list,” the AGF added.

However, in his judgement, Justice Okorowo dismissed the objection, even as he entered judgement in favour of the Plaintiff.

“The suit succeeds on its merit and all the reliefs sought by Plaintiff.

“Judgement is hereby entered on the claims of the plaintiff in this case. This is the order of this court,” Justice Okorowo held.

It will be recalled that the court had in June, also ordered FG to pay $951 million to the Bayelsa Government as 13 per cent derivative sum due to it as arrears of revenue.

The court equally ordered FG to pay the sum of $3.3 billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, being their revenue share from crude oil sales.

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