The Supreme Court has fixed September 25 to commence definite hearing in the suit filed by the 36 states of the federation challenging the legality of the transfer of 1 billion Dollars to the Sovereign Wealth Funds. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, fixed the date after it became clear to the court that the parties involved were not willing to resolve the contending issues out of court.
The plaintiffs brought the suit against the Federal Government on what they described as alleged illegal transfer of 1 billion Dollars from the Excess Crude Account to the Sovereign Wealth Funds. The Federal Government, through its Counsel, Mr Austin Alegeh (SAN), had asked the court to give parties time to settle the matter out of court. At the resumed hearing, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) told the court that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Mohammed Adoke, had not created time for out of court settlement.
He, therefore, prayed the court to give the parties a date for definite hearing, adding that the government had trivialised the matter. He also prayed the court for an order restraining the Federal Government from further spending from the excess crude account. The counsel told the court that the accountant general of the federation had last week threatened to remove another N2 billion from the account. Awomolo sought for an order of the court for all parties to maintain `status quo ante’ pending the determination of the suit.
The counsel to the Federal Government, however, submitted that the deductions from the account had always been at the instance of the states. He added that he had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit. On the alternative, Alegeh prayed the court to compel the plaintiffs to sign an undertaking not to request for any funds from the Federal Government until the suit was resolved.
The 36 states of the federation had accused the Federal Government of insincerity in its promise to settle the case out of court. At the last adjourned date, Mr Yusuf Alli (SAN), who had represented the states, told the court that his clients wanted the issue resolved once and for all. He said that “almost all the issues have been resolved”, noting that the outstanding issues could still be resolved out of court by the parties.