Court set to deliver judgment in missing $12.4bn oil windfall suit

Former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida
Former President, Ibrahim Babangida is believed to have squandered the money

After over two years in court, hope for a definite legal pronouncement and accountability for the missing $12.4 billion oil windfall might become a reality tomorrow Friday 23 November 2012, as the Federal High Court in Abuja is due to deliver final judgment in the suit.

Friday’s judgment will be closely watched by millions of Nigerians and national and global human rights and anti-corruption groups. The case will set legal precedents that could be used in other corruption cases in the country.

This development followed the hearing of arguments and re-adoption of written addresses by lawyers to the parties in September before Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

Sola Egbeyinka of Falana and Falana Chambers, solicitor to the Registered Trustees of Socio-Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP) and five other right groups that instituted the suit will be present in court for the judgment.

At the hearing in September, the Federal Government insisted that the enactment by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria Idris Legbo Kutigi of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 “exceeded his Constitutional powers by liberalising the rules on locus standi, permitting public impact litigation, and allowing the inclusion of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Rules.”

The government also said that it could not find the Okigbo report, and had no duty to render account on the spending of the accrued revenue. The Plaintiffs disagreed, arguing that “such duty exists on the basis of Article 9 of the African Charter, which has become part of our national laws. Also, the Freedom of Information Act has been enacted which also imposes a legal duty on public institutions and agencies to render account, and allow access to public documents.”

It was also argued for the government that “only the AGF as a defender of public interest has the right to seek information on the spending of the $12.4 billion oil windfall,” and that the Plaintiffs have no such right. The Plaintiffs countered by saying that it was “the failure of the AGF to carry out his duty in this respect,” that prompted their legal action against the government in the first place.

The case, which was initially set for judgment on July 24, 2011, has suffered several adjournments. It was previously adjourned to March 16 2012 for re-adoption of written addresses but was not heard as the court did not sit.

When the matter first came up for judgment, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, said the judgment was not yet ready to be delivered. According to the judge then, “the judgment is not yet ready. I have to give priority to criminal cases which are very important. I have a backlog of judgments which are older than this case. I regret the delay.” The judge subsequently adjourned the case to October 21 2011 to deliver the judgment.

However, when the case came up on 21 October 2011 it was again adjourned indefinitely because the court did not sit. It was at this point that the suit became affected by the provisions of Section 194 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which provides that, “Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than ninety days after the conclusion of evidence and final addresses and furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof.”

The suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/640/10 was brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.

The non-governmental organisations had dragged the Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) before the court over the much publicised 12.4 billion dollars oil windfall, which the country recorded between 1988 and 1994, while former military dictator, Ibrahim Babagida was in power.

The plaintiffs asked the court to make an order compelling the CBN

and the AGF to publish detailed accounts relating to the spending of the colossal sum of money between 1988 and 1994. They also sought for an order of the court compelling the respondents to diligently and effectively bring to justice any one suspected of corruption and mismanagement of the 12.4 billion dollars oil windfall.

They also want an order directing the respondents to provide adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition to millions of Nigerians that have been denied their human rights as a result of the respondents’ failure and/or negligence to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of $12.4 billion oil windfall between 1988 and 1994.

According to the plaintiffs, “The need for information regarding the spending of $12.4 billion oil windfall is important to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and to fulfill Nigeria’s international obligations to promote the development of the country. Access to information of this nature is especially important in this country, which is struggling to establish the rule of law and democracy in the face of underdevelopment, poverty, illiteracy and diseases. The right of access to information is also crucial to the realisation of all other human rights, including the peoples’ right to their natural wealth and resources.”

The plaintiffs also argued that: “The diversion and/or mismanagement of the $12.4 billion oil windfall is a violation of Nigerians’ right to natural resources and wealth and to economic development, as recognised and guaranteed by 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act). Under the African Charter, the Nigerian government has a legal responsibility to utilise the natural resources of the country so as to benefit the whole people. Just as the people of every sovereign state have a permanent right to choose their form of government, so the people are entitled to insist that the natural resources of the nation be exploited in the interest of the people.”

It would be recalled that a coalition of six civil society groups led by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sued the AGF and CBN in September 2010, seeking information on how $12.4 billion oil windfall of between 1988 and 1994 was spent.

The other plaintiffs in the suit are: Women Advocates and Documentation Centre (WARDC); Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Access to Justice (AJ); Partnership for Justice, and Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).


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  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    I will give me my left hand if any northern columnist write anything about this common criminal.

    • james

      This is a confidential security news and quiz from the presidency. It is on behalf of the Republic of South South and South East as announced by akpos1 and mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa to the peoples and youths of Continent Nigeria.
      These are the quizes:

      1. Which President of Continent Nigeria has a child by the sister of one of the female ministers who lives in England?
      For our winning prize Criminal Dan Etete of Malabu Oil of the Republic of SS and SE and a confidant of the sitting President of Continent Nigeria has agreed to give part of his juicy oil blocks as the prize to the winner of this security quiz.

      Forward on to the the Republic of SS and SE. Do not go away. I am loving this tribalist insane fun. It makes me feeeeeeel goooood. I like dis ting ooooo. I beg give more. This is just greeeeaaaatt. May the Republic of SS and SE live forever so that we have this stupid and idiotic fun mpitikwelu and akpos1-abi wetin una tink? . May Continent Nigeria just pafuaka so dat we get dis fun well well.
      So answer now biko.

  • akpos1

    The main reason why the economy of continent Nigeria is not working is simple. Scientific research carried out reduces the reasons largely to the answers to the 2 simple questions below:

    1. In which of the following ways do the Northern countries in the continent of Nigeria contribute
    to the continent?

    a) Education
    b) Scientific innovation
    c) Sports
    d) Female football
    e) Women Beach volleyball
    f) Mineral resources
    g) Human Capital Resource
    h) Music
    i) Comedy
    j) Nollywood film production
    k) None of the above

    ANSWER = (k) None of the above

    2. In which of the following sectors of the economy of Continent Nigeria is the Northern countries most active?

    a) Terrorism
    b) Street begging
    c) Domestic Security
    d) Corruption
    e) Legislative terrorism
    f) Under pants plane bombing
    g) Suicide bombing
    h) All of the above
    i) None of the above

    ANSWER = (h) All of the above

    2. In which of the following countries of continent Nigeria will the citizens not protest several years of bombings & killings of people in Churches & leisure spots but go on to protest an internet film?

    a) Oduduwa Republic
    b) United States of the SS & SE Republic
    c) Alimajiri Republic
    d) Biafra Republic
    e) Opobo Kingdom/Republic
    f) Benin Kingdom/Republic

    Long live the Ogoni Republic
    Long live the United States of the SS & SE

    • Mohammed

      akpos1/and mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa, thanks so much for the tribalist humors. let us have more. Long live the republic of SS and SE.

      So let us Go? Baby

      In which part of Nigeria did a governor dress like a woman in a foreign country in order to escape arrest?

      Who is this Governor? The Governor General of Ijaws or …Diereye Alamieyeseigha?

      Which Governor in the Continent Nigeria was convicted for common shop lifting in a common store in England before he became Governor of one of the South South countries in Continent Nigeria?

      Answer: President Ibori or what?

      The best answers will receive a prize from Malabu.

      Please do not go away. More will come
      Long Live The Republic of SS and SE. Long Live Ojukwu, Long Live Biafra, Long Live Chinua Achebe as the first president of the Biafra Republic of SS and SE