Symbol of Justice
The Federal Government Monday asked a Federal High Court in Abuja for more time to respond to a suit filed by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Chief Stanley Okeke, asking President Goodluck Jonathan to completely remove subsidy on fuel.
Although, the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, had slated the matter for hearing yesterday, a counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Nasir Habib, told the court that the case had just been minuted to him.
He asked for time and pleaded with the court for an adjournment to enable him file papers on behalf of the Federal Government.
Justice Ademola who was eager to begin hearing on the matter, consequently adjourned the matter to February 19, to enable the counsel file his papers.
The judge also advised the Ministry of Justice to take matters affecting the rights and obligation of the people serious.
Although, several civil society organisations had threatened to join the suit in order to oppose it, as at yesterday, none of them had filed an application for joinder.
The suit was filed on December 21.
Okeke is asking the court to compel Jonathan to return to the Federation Account “such money earlier appropriated or approved for the payment of fuel subsidy.”
Listed as the defendants are Jonathan; the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezeni Allison-Madueke; and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
The plaintiff said the subsidy fund was unjustifiable in the face of corruption in the system, perennial fuel shortage and long queues in the country.
According to him, the only way to stop abuse of the fuel subsidy scheme is the removal of the policy by the Federal Government.
He is also asking the court for an order directing Okonjo-Iweala to stop further payment of fuel subsidy, submitting that the payments had been corrupt, illegal and unlawful.
The PDP chief asked the court to determine the following questions:
•Whether in view of the official corruption and abuse of office inherent in the fuel subsidy regime as evidenced by the in-going trial of certain individuals in the Federal High Court Lagos, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is validly competent to order the removal and or abolish the fuel subsidy scheme;
•Whether consequent upon the perennial fuel shortages and the attendant long queues on our roads, it would be proper and lawful for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to completely remove and abolish the fuel subsidy regime;
•Whether having regards to the near infrastructural collapse in our country, it would be proper to re-channel funds meant fuel subsidy scheme into the building of infrastructural facilities, and;
•Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants being appointees of the president by not ensuring a corrupt free subsidy regime has not failed in their principal duty to Nigerians.