Friday, April 18, 2014

Aturu writes Adoke, seeks to be joined in suit seeking removal of petrol subsidy

Published:

Bamidele Aturu

Mr. Aturu had just succeeded in an application seeking to declare the deregulation of the downstream sector, illegal

Lagos lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, wants be joined in a suit seeking the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.

Mr. Aturu had on March 19 succeeded in his application seeking a court’s declaration that the deregulation of the downstream sector is illegal, null, void and unconstitutional.

The lawyer, in a letter dated March 21, wrote to the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, to formally inform him of the court’s ruling on the deregulation policy. Mr. Aturu also informed the AGF that he is also applying to join in a similar suit seeking the removal of subsidy on petrol.

After a week-long national protest in January 2012 against the Federal Government’s removal of fuel subsidy, an Abuja-based businessman, Stanley Okeke, instituted a suit against the sustenance of the fuel subsidy regime.

Defendants in the suit include the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Minister of Petroleum Resources and Minister of Finance.

In his application, counsel to Mr. Okeke sought to know whether the president is competent to order the removal of fuel subsidy with the official corruption and abuse of office inherent in the scheme as evidenced by the on-going trial of some marketers and corporate organisations accused of collecting money and failing to deliver products in the country.

The application also sought to know why policy should be sustained considering that the Minister of Petroleum Resources and her counterpart in the Ministry of Finance have failed in their duties to Nigerians by not ensuring a corrupt-free subsidy regime.

Mr. Okeke, therefore, sought a declaration that the fuel subsidy regime currently funded by the Federal Government is a waste of public funds, unlawful and illegal to sustain. He added that it should be abolished by the President for having failed to achieve the purpose it was meant to serve.

Other requests include that the corruption inherent in the fuel subsidy scheme has not only caused untold hardship to the Nigerians, but also an abuse of their rights as guaranteed by the provisions of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.

The plaintiff also asked the court to order the Minister of Finance to refund to the Federation Account all monies earlier appropriated or approved under the fuel subsidy funds, as same cannot be justified in the face of pervasive corruption, perennial fuel shortage and long queues of motorists in filing stations across the country.

Mr. Aturu, in his letter to Mr. Adoke, made known his request to be joined in the case scheduled for April 18, 2013 to avoid the possibility of conflicting decisions by two Federal High Courts on the same subject, which might ridicule the judiciary.

Mr. Aturu said the suit seeking for the removal of fuel subsidy would help gather facts capable of resolving the issues surrounding deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry in Nigeria.

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