Updated: Groups condemn postponement of ruling on $12.4b oil windfall

Former dictator, Ibrahim Babangida

The judge said he had more important cases to spend time on.


Some Civil Society Organisations have reacted to Friday’s postponement of the judgement on a suit that seeks to make the Federal Government accountable to the people.

A Judge of a Federal High Court, Gabriel Kolawole, was set to deliver judgement on the suit by some civil society groups against the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The groups wanted the defendants to release, and act on, the Pius Okigbo report which investigated the spending of the $12.4 billion gulf oil windfall that accrued to Nigerian during the first gulf war under the regime of former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.

The respondents, the CBN and the AGF, have told the court that the report is missing, and that only the AGF has the right to seek such information and implementation.

After many previous adjournments of the suit, Mr. Kolawole was set to deliver judgement on Friday.

He did not.


Groups react

The coordinator of the Human and Environmental Development Agency, Lanre Suraj, expressed his disappointment over the adjournment.

“The way things are turning out clearly shows that the judiciary is still not an independent arm of the government as it is expected in every same democracy,” Mr. Suraj said.

The group coordinator cautioned Nigerians not to be overly optimistic of the judgement.

“We’ve been experiencing the same thing since the beginning of the year and this clearly shows one thing, that the final judgement that will emanate from this case is not going to be based on the sound, relevant materials that will be presented before the judge. But rather from influences that are outside the court and also the engagement of parties,” he said.

Also, the Director of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, blamed the present government for being too soft and nonchalant in fighting corruption especially when it involves the high and mighty.

Mr. Adeniran linked the court’s decision and the position taken by the defence as evidence of the government’s insincerity to fight corruption.

“This present government is not ready to fight corruption especially when it involves the people of the ruling elites whether in the past or present,” Mr. Adeniran said.

“Just yesterday Lamorde of the EFCC cried out that the court is frustrating his efforts, that is just a clear example of how the court will find any excuse both technical and otherwise in cases that are winnable,” he added, calling for a revolution.


Reasons for adjournment

 Mr. Kolawole gave reasons for not delivering his judgement on Friday.

“I am sorry that the judgement is not yet ready. I have to give priority to other serious criminal cases which are very important,” he said. “I have a backlog of judgements which are older than this case. I regret the delay.”

The judge said his court has been overwhelmed with cases.

“Besides, the AGF, on Monday, filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the suit,” he added. “I will have to look at their arguments and also look at the reply from the plaintiff’s counsel.”

The judge adjourned the ruling to November 29.

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