Governors order audit of ecological fund
Citing negligent execution of petroleum production contracts by multinationals operating in Nigeria, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states have filed a suit at the Supreme Court against the Federal Government to challenge the loss of N500 trillion in oil revenue.
The plaintiffs are praying the apex court to compel the Federal Government to implement Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution as it relates to oil revenue generation and sharing among the component parts of the federation.
In the originating summons by Luscious Nwosu, SAN on behalf of the three states, the Supreme Court is being urged to determine whether there was a statutory obligation imposed on the defendant pursuant to Section 16 of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act Cap D3 of the Laws of the Federation 2004.
They also want the apex court to determine whether there was a statutory obligation imposed on the Federal Government to adjust its share in the additional revenue accruing under the various production sharing contracts approved by the defendant if the price of crude oil at any time exceeds $20 per barrel, in real terms, to such extent that the production sharing contracts shall be economically beneficial to the government of the federation.
They equally sought a consequential order of the court to compel 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 basin and deep offshore areas as approved by the defendant from the respective terms the price of crude oil exceeded $20 per barrel.
The plaintiffs also want the Federal Government to be compelled to calculate in arrears with effect from August 2003 as well as recover and pay immediately all outstanding statutory allocations due and payable to them from the said adjustment.
In a 33-paragraph affidavit in support of their originating summons, the plaintiffs said that they sought to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret various constitutional provisions in Sections 80(1), 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contacts Act Cap D3 Laws of the Federation 2004 as it relates to the fiscal responsibility of the defendant to them.
Justice Bode Rhodes, who led six others, fixed November 14 for hearing of the suit.
Meanwhile, the 36 states’ chief executives, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have ordered a holistic audit of the ecological fund.
Consequently, an ad hoc committee, which is to come up with clear-cut recommendations on how the funds would be subsequently managed, has been constituted.
Addressing State House correspondents after a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, the governor of Anambra State, Willy Obiano, said the decision was sequel to a briefing by the Accountant General of the Federation.
The committee comprises Oyo, Borno, Imo, Kaduna and Benue. Others include Anambra, Akwa Ibom as well as the ministers of finance and environment.
Explaining the council’s decision, Obiano noted that it was worrisome that the funds had been stagnant for several months.
“With respect to why the committee was set up, it was to look at the balance. The actual word is not to audit it but to reestablish that the balance is correct because it has been standing like that for a couple of months. We will address that and the committee will brief NEC at the next meeting,” he said.
He added that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, gave updates on the next round of Paris Club disbursements.
Obiano said council also got a briefing from the minister on the Excess Crude Account, which he said, stood at $2.2 billion as of April 26.
Adeosun also briefed the governors on the performance of the Efficiency Unit recently established by the Federal Government.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, told the gathering that 9,646 suspected cases of meningitis had been recorded in six states since its outbreak in parts of the country.
The affected states include Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi and Kano.
He disclosed that N46 billion was needed to effectively vaccinate the valuable population.