The Supreme Court, yesterday, fixed September 25 for the commencement of definite hearing on the suit filed by the 36 state governors against the federal government over the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
This followed the failure of the two levels of government to reach an amicable settlement out of court.
The apex court had on March 26 adjourned for report of settlement, yesterday, in a suit between the 36 states and the Federal Government on the Excess Crude Account.
The states are challenging the legality of the Excess Crude Account and the decision of the Federal Government to transfer $1 billion from the account to the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
Counsel for the 36 Governors, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) had told the apex court that they had done all that was required to achieve amicable settlement, but the attorney general of the federation (AGF) had, since the last adjourned date, failed to create time to meet with them.
He, therefore, asked the apex court to give the Governors adjourned date for definite hearing of the suit so that the issue could be settled legally once and for all.
He also said that even after the judgment, the federal government could still opt for settlement if it so desired.
‘’We are constrained that this court need to assist us to hear our matter in the interest of justice’’, Awomolo said.
Counsel to the federal government, Mr Austin Allege (SAN) agreed that the apex court could proceed to hear the matter if the plaintiffs could no longer exercise patience for the settlement deal already on course to materialise.
He said that meetings have been held between the state governors and the federal government and that almost all the issues had been resolved. Besides, outstanding issues could still be resolved out of court by the parties.
Following Allege’s statement, Awomolo told the court that he has an application seeking the order of the court to restrain the federal government from making further withdrawal from the excess crude account till the matter is resolved. He revealed that the minister of finance even threatened to withdraw $2 billion from the said excess crude account last week. And that as at 2008, the outstanding balance of that excess crude account stood at $20 billion, and as at today the balance of the account has depleted to $3.1 billion.
‘’Why we are here, we thought that further depletion on the account should stop’’, Awomolo said.
But Allege said that in the first instance, he has an application objecting to the jurisdiction of the apex court to entertain the governors’ suit.
‘’This court has no jurisdiction because the matter is between the federal government and the other two tiers of government. The best court to hear the matter is the federal high court’’.
He further stated that, any money taken from excess crude account is shared among the three tiers of government.
common knowledge that they engaged in incessant strikes in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said.