Court Restrains FG from Deducting Rivers Funds on Mbede, Akiri Oil Wells

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Davidson Iriekpen

A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained the federal government and its agencies from deducting funds meant for Rivers State in respect of the Mbede and Akiri Oil Wells.

Justice Tawo Tawo gave the ruling yesterday in an originating summons filed by the Attorney General of Rivers State against the Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorney General of Imo State, the Accountant General of the Federation, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the Minister of Finance .

The Attorney General of Rivers State moved the originating summons: “Pursuant to order 3 Rule 6, 7, and 9 of the Federal High (Civil Procedures) Rules 2019 Section 7 of the National Boundary Commission (Establishment) Act Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the inherent jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as preserved by Section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.”

The immediate past Imo State Governor, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, had written to President Muhamadu Buhari demanding revenue from the Federation Account in respect of the Mbede and Akiri Oil Wells.

The Rivers State Government went to court over the matter.

The court declared that Rivers State Government is entitled to continue to receive and retain revenue from the Federation Account and other accounts maintained for the purpose in respect of revenue derived from oil wells within the territory of Rivers State based on the 13 per cent derivation formula currently applied by the 4th defendant.

The court further declared that the Rivers State Government (represented by the plaintiff on record) is entitled to receive and retain revenue from the Federation Account as provided for under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in respect of revenue drive from the oil wells generally referred to as Akiri and Mbede Oil Wells located within the Rivers State territory.

Justice Tawo declared that the President and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, represented by the 1st defendant on record), are not entitled to give directives to the 4th defendant with regard to distribution of public revenue from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account and that they are not entitled to interfere in any manner whatsoever with the distribution of public revenue from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.

The court held that the Imo State Government (represented by the 2nd defendant) is not entitled to alter or cause to be altered, to deny or cause to be denied, whether through the instrumentality of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (represented by the 1st defendant) or any manner howsoever the revenue due to the Rivers State Government in accordance with the principle and formula for distributing public revenue for the time being under the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Tawo declared that until the conflicting claims over Akiri and Mbede Oil Wells by Rivers and Imo States (represented by the 2nd defendant in this suit) are resolved by the National Boundary Commission, the 4th defendant cannot deny the Rivers State its due share of public revenue under the 1999 Constitution (as it is currently being distributed), or in any manner after the sharing formula or reduce the share of public revenue due to Rivers State on account of the claim of Imo State (represented by the 2nd defendant) to the said Akiri and Mbede Oil Wells.