Counsel to the Federal Government, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Efforts to amicably resolve the dispute between the Federal Government and the 36 states of the federation over the management of the revenue accruing to the federation have failed for the umpteenth time, as the states yesterday asked the Supreme Court to go ahead on adjudicating on the suit challenging the operation of the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
They told the court that they had lost confidence in the ability of the Federal Government to reach an out-of-court settlement with them on the dispute and it should proceed with definite hearing of the case.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), who represented the states, told the court that his clients wanted the case decided on merit since the parties had not been able to come up with amicable settlement terms.
The parties were expected to report to the Supreme Court yesterday with the agreed terms of settlement but could not do so because no agreement had been reached.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), told the court that no agreement had been reached on the terms of settlement.
He therefore prayed the court for an adjournment to enable the two parties to reach settlement terms acceptable to both sides.
According to him, the matter in contention was political, thus asking the court to give the parties more time to explore further solutions.
In his response, Awomolo insisted that the matter before the court was a constitutional one and not political.
He prayed the court to hear and give a definite pronouncement on the suit, which has been pending since 2008.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court fixed May 9, 2013 for reports of settlement.
It also ordered the parties to make sure that all processes were filed before that day.
The 36 states of the federation had sued the Federal Government over plans to transfer $1 billion from the ECA to a new account known as the Sovereign Wealth Fund. But the Federal Government sought to settle the matter out of court.
Based on the application, the Supreme Court afforded the parties the opportunity to settle the matter and report back with the report of settlement. This, the parties had failed to achieve.
At the request of the Federal Government for an out-of-court settlement, the court had on several occasions adjourned the matter.
At the last adjournment, counsel to the Federal Government, Austin Alegeh (SAN), had told the court that the states had just submitted additional terms of settlement and asked for time to study and respond to them.
Though the case was filed by the 36 states governors in 2008, the Federal Government approached the court pleading that the parties be allowed to explore an amicable resolution of the case through negotiations.