By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the Federal Government to pay the sum of $951million to Bayelsa State, being the 13 percent derivative sum due as arrears of revenue and payable to the state.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, noted that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, failed to respond to claims Bayelsa State made before it.
Bayelsa State government had in the suit it filed through a team of lawyers led by Mr. Ken Njemanze, SAN, applied for an order to compel the Federal Government to pay it five percent of $50 billion that was recovered as additional revenue that accrued to the country.
According to the Plaintiff, the money accrued from 2003 to 2017.
Bayelsa State had among other things, prayed the court for, “An order directing the defendant (AGF) to pay the sum of $951, 190, 840.00 (Nine Hundred and fifty one million, one hundred and ninety thousand, forty two United States dollars), being the 13% derivative sum due as arrears of revenue and payable to Bayelsa State as assessed, completed and calculated by the Body set up by Honorable Attorney General of the Federation pursuant to paragraph b (iii) (b) of the terms of settlement made by the (consent) judgement of the Court by the Supreme Court in suit No: SC 964/2016 Attorney General of Rivers State and Others Vs Attorney General of the Federation on the 17th day of October, 2018.
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As well as, “10% post judgement interest at the court rate on the said sum of $951, 190, 840.00 (Nine Hundred and fifty one million, one hundred and ninety thousand, forty two United States dollars), until final liquidation thereof”.
The Attorney-General of the Federation was cited as sole Defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/175/2012.
In his judgement, Justice Ekwo held that the failure of the Defendant to respond to the suit meant that all averments by the Plaintiff remained “unchallenged”.
The court held that where a person issues a letter of demand on another person upon outstanding facts, the person for whom the demand notice was issued must take steps to react to same.
“Where the person to whom such demand notice is issued takes no steps, he is deemed to have admitted the claims thereby giving the other person the option of enforcing the claims by the available procedures for enforcement of undisputed claims.
“That is what has happened in this case. I find no material upon which I can grant leave of this court for the Defendant to enter a defence or transfer this matter to the general cause list.
“In that case, I also find that the case of the Plaintiff remains not only unchallenged but admitted and therefore must succeed on the merit.
“Judgement is hereby entered on the claims of the plaintiff in this case. This is the order of this court”, Justice Ekwo held.
It will recalled that Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers State governments had ealier gone to the Supreme Court to demand an upward adjustment of the shares of revenues accruing to the Nigerian government whenever the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel.
The apex court, in a verdict it delivered in October 2018, ordered FG to embark on an upward adjustment of the shares of revenues accruing to the government whenever the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel.