Court orders Fed Govt to pay Rivers, Akwa Ibom $3.3b

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Federal Government to pay over $3.3billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom states as their share of the revenue earned by Nigeria from crude oil sales.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that the amount formed the shares of the $62 billion said to have been recovered from some oil firms by the Federal Government.

The judge ordered that $1,114,551,610 be paid to Rivers, while $2,258,411,586 be paid to Akwa Ibom state.

The sums were separately claimed by the states against the Federal Government from the share from the $62 billion recovered from the oil firms.

The judgment was on the suit by the Attorneys-General of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states with the Attorney General of the Federation as the only defendant.

Justice Taiwo held that the Federal Government admitted that the monetary claims of the two states against it by its refusal to defend the case.

He said the filing of a mere notice of intention to defend the case, without proceeding to join issues with the plaintiffs, was a fatal error on the part of the AGF.

The judge held that the AGF admitted all the averments of the two states to be true by refusing to debunk, counterclaim or controvert the claims of the two states on the oil revenue issue.

He held that the plaintiffs’ suit was founded on a Supreme Court judgment on how proceeds from sales of crude oil should be shared.

The judge added that the claim of the two states on the recovery of an additional $62billion was never controverted by the defendant, despite several correspondences, hence, the law deems unchallenged claims as true.

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He rejected the defendant’s claim that it cannot pay the money it did receive from crude oil sales, adding that the defendant ought to have filed a bonafide defence to explain its position in respect of the $62 billion oil earnings as required by law.

Justice Taiwo held: “By not filing defence to challenge the claims of $62 billion oil earnings of the two plaintiffs, I have no option than to hold that the Federal Government has no defence to the issue and I have no discretion to give judgment in favour of the plaintiffs.

“I hereby make an order that $1,114,551,610 be paid to Rivers state as its share from the $62 billion oil revenue and another $2,258,411,586 be also paid to Akwa Ibom as its own share from the oil proceeds.”

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