An Abuja division of the federal high court has ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria, to pay the sum of $1.638 billion to Delta State government as 13% derivation sum due as arrears of revenue payable to the state.
The presiding judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo made the order on Monday while delivering judgement on a suit filed by the Attorney General of Delta State seeking to recover revenue accruing to the state.
Justice Okorowo, while delivering the judgment, held that being a suit instituted to recover revenue accruing to the state government, it qualified for the undefended list.
Reliefs sought by the plaintiff
The plaintiff (Delta State government) prayed the court to discountenance AGF Abubakar Malami’s claim that Delta State was not a party to the suit logged at the Supreme Court by Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers state seeking the enforcement of the general littoral state.
The plaintiff prayed the court for “A consequential order of this court compelling the defendant to net off and pay 5% 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 November 19, 2018, pursuant to clause lll(d) of the terms of settlement made the (consent) judgment by the Supreme Court.”
“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.”
“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 as assessed.”
Submission by AGF’s counsel
The AGF, through his counsel, argued that “The subject matter of this suit is a dispute between the Delta 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.”
He further argued that Delta State was not a party in the terms of settlement in the suit between the Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers State governments delivered by the Supreme Court.
According to him, “it will not serve the interest of justice to grant the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant without full hearing. He then urged the court to dismiss the suit.”
What you should know
Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation is the sole defendant in the suit.
The judge set aside Mr Malami’s preliminary objections challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit and the fact that the case was instituted as an “undefended list”.
In June, a federal high court in Abuja ordered the federal government of Nigeria to pay $951 million to Bayelsa government as 13% derivation sum due as revenue arrears following a suit instituted against the AGF by Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers governments.
The federal government was also ordered by the court to pay $3.3 billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom governments as their revenue share from crude oil sales.
On July 12, Counsel to the plaintiff, Ken Njemanze (SAN) had filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/660/2012 asking the court to compel the AGF to pay 5% of the $50 billion recovered as additional revenue accrued to the Nigerian government.
On July 22, Justice Okorowo had ruled on an ex-parte application that the plaintiff’s writ of summons be marked and placed on the “undefended list.”