The Federal Government now has six months to settle with the state governors or face judicial pronouncement.
After twelve adjournments at the instance of the Federal Government, the Supreme Court has fixed May 9, 2013 for the Federal Government to settle amicably with the 36 state governors over the Excess Crude Account, and also bring a report of such settlement to the court.
The 36 state governors filed the suit against the federal government challenging the alleged maintenance and illegal deductions from the federation account by the federal government.
The presiding judge of the case at the Supreme Court, Chukwuma Eneh, who led six other judges, in a ruling said, “having listen to counsels in the matter and the failure of the defendant to report back on terms of amicable settlement, this matter is hereby adjourned to May 9th, 2013 for report of settlement or a definite hearing date”
Justice Eneh also ordered all parties in the suit to file their processes which will be deemed appropriately filed ahead of a hearing date if the amicable settlement fails by May.
The counsel to the federal government, Wale Olanipekun , told the court that the defendant is interested in an all inclusive meeting with all the plaintiffs to resolve the lingering issues, describing the matter as “purely political” which ought to be resolved outside the court.
Subsequently, Mr. Olanipekun again requested for another adjournment to allow the various governments resolve the matter amicably and report back to the court.
Lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Adegboyega Awomolo , prayed the court for a definite hearing date against what he described as ” unresolved issues” between the plaintiffs and the defendant, which is obviously above the resolve of counsels in the matter, but justiciable by the court.
” It appears sir, that the court may pronounce on the constitutionality of this matter, because the unresolved issues are beyond counsels in this matter but certainly below this court to adjudicate on, by way of setting down a definite hearing date” Mr. Awomolo stated.
” We have had twelve adjournments since this matter was filed in 2008, all at the instance of the plaintiff to seek amicable resolution with the plaintiff. We have with respect shown sufficient diligence, hence the need to set a date for hearing if the amicable settlement option fails,” he added.
The 36 state governors have been drawn in a long battle with the federal government over illegal deductions from the federation account without compliance to section 162 of the constitution on how withdrawals and disbursement of such funds are made.
The governors are seeking the constitutional pronouncement on the core issues of fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability on the way withdrawals are made by the federal government from the federation account.
The plaintiffs are also desirous of sharing from the proceeds of any investment made by the federal government, including income earned from the federal government’s share of the statutory monthly allocation accruable to the three tiers of government.