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Court bars FG, agencies from deducting Rivers funds over disputed oil wells

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Federal Government and its agencies from deducting revenues accruable to Rivers State from the disputed Mbede and Akiri oil wells.

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

The Attorney General of Rivers State had in an originating summons filed the suit against the defendants 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 jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as preserved by Section 6 (6) of the constitution.

The Rivers State Government had gone to court shortly after immediate past Governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha had written the President demanding revenue from the Federal Account in respect of the Mbede and Akiri oil wells.

Justice Taiwo declared that the Rivers State Government was entitled to continue to receive and retain revenues from the federation account and other accounts maintained for the purpose in respect of revenue derived from oil wells within Rivers State territory based on the 13 percent derivation formula currently applied by the fourth defendant.

He also said the Rivers State Government was entitled to receive and retain revenue from the Federation Account as provided under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in respect of revenue derived from the Akiri and Mbede Oil Wells located in Rivers State territory.

The judge stated that the President and Federal Government, represented by the Attorney General of the Federation, were not entitled to give directives to the Minister of Finance regarding the distribution of public revenue from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.

The court also ruled that the Government of Imo State (represented by the second defendant) was not entitled to alter deny or cause to be denied, whether through the President of Nigeria or the Federal Government (represented by the first defendant) or any manner howsoever the revenue due to Rivers State Government in accordance with the principle and formula for distributing public revenues for the time being under the constitution.

Justice Tawo also declared that until the conflicting claims over Akiri and Mbede oil wells by Rivers State and Imo State were resolved by the National Boundary Commission, the Minister of Finance could deny Rivers State its due share of public revenues under the constitution, as it is currently being distributed, or in any manner after the sharing formula or reduce the share of public revenues due to Rivers State on account of Imo State’s claim to the disputed oil wells.


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