19 January 2010

Nigeria: Excess Crude Oil - Court Gives FG Ultimatum to Ratify Agreement

Supreme Court of Nigeria yesterday gave the Federal Government till March 18, 2010 to ratifyan agreement reached with aggrieved states of the Federation in the legal battle instituted by the states over Excess Crude Account.

The states have also increased from the initial 20 to 30 as at January 14, 2010 when they wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance Mansur Mukhtar conveying their disappointment on the Federal Government's non-challant approach to the agreement.

The letter written by the plaintiff's lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) conveyed the states', grievances with the way the Federal Government is going about the situation.

The letter read in part: "We refer to most especially to the meeting of 8th September 2009 at which our clients made significant concessions and agreed to forbear on a number of key issues and the assurances of the Minister at the said meeting that the agreements reached thereat would be documented and finalized in readiness for ratification by parties.

When the matter came before the apex court yesterday, Awomolo who asked the court for a definite date for hearing said there was the need to resume prosecution so that, "when the government is ready they would communicate with us".

Awomolo recalled that the case was filed since 2008 and no progress had been made due to delay on the part of Federal Government.

But A.O. Alege (SAN) who represented the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN) appealed for understanding, saying that: "This is a matter in which settlement ought to be encouraged."

Justice Oguntade adjourned the matter till March 18, 2010 for report of settlement. He said in the event settlement is not reached, the matter would be adjourned for hearing.

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