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Court orders Fed to pay Rivers $1.1 billion from oil revenue share

The Federal High Court has ordered the Federal Government to pay $3.3billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom as revenue share from crude oil sales.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who passed the judgment, ordered that $1,114,551,610 be paid to Rivers State and $2,258,411,586 to Akwa Ibom being the amount separately claimed against the Federal Government from the share of $62 billion recovered from oil companies operating in the country.

Plaintiffs in the suit are Attorney Generals of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states while the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice was the sole defendant.

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The judge held that the Federal Government admitted to the monetary claims of the two states brought against it by its refusal to defend the case when served with court processes.

Justice Taiwo said mere notice of intention to defend the case without joining issues with the plaintiffs was a fatal error on the part of the Federal Government.

By refusing to debunk, counter-claim or controvert the claims of the two states on the oil revenue issue, the judge held that the Federal Government had admitted all the averments of the two states to be true.

Justice Taiwo further held that the suit of Rivers and Akwa Ibom was founded on a Supreme Court judgment on how proceeds from sales of crude oil should be shared, adding that the claim of the two states on the recovery of additional $62billion by the plaintiffs was never controverted by the defendant in spite of several correspondences, hence the law deems unchallenged claims as true.

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“By not filing defence to challenge the claims of $62 billion oil earnings of the two plaintiffs, I have no option than to hold that the Federal Government has no defence to the issue and I have no discretion to give judgment in favour of the plaintiffs. I hereby make an order that $1,114,551,610 be paid to Rivers State as its share from the $62 billion oil revenue and another $2,258,411,586 be also paid to Akwa Ibom as its own share from the oil proceeds.”

The two plaintiffs had instituted their joint case based on a press statement from the office of the AGF and published in the media to the effect that another $62 billion was recovered from foreign oil companies as proceeds of crude oil sales.

Justice Taiwo held that although the AGF office attempted to withdraw the press statement, the issue of the huge revenue generation was not addressed.

He subsequently held that the Federal Government actually recovered the said $62 billion as contained in the press statement and ordered it to release the shares of the two states to them in compliance with a Supreme Court judgment.

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