Wike in Supreme Court, witnesses 17 oil wells dispute’s suit against Imo

…FG asked to pay Delta $1.638bn derivative fund

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, was on Monday present at the Supreme Court in Abuja to witness the legal battle by his state against Imo State on the ownership of 17 oil wells.

Wike was in court for over two hours the preliminary hearing in the suit by a seven-man panel of Justices of the court led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun lasted.

The governor declined to speak with journalists at the end of the proceedings.

However, the apex court set January 17, 2022 for definite hearing in the legal battle.

The apex court fixed the new date after the Attorney General of the Federation, as first defendant, and Imo State, as second defendant, formally regularised the processes filed to counter the claims of Rivers State on the disputed oil wells.

Although the matter was slated for hearing on November 1, counsel to the AGF, Dr Remi Olatubora (SAN) and Chief Olusola Oke (SAN) for Imo State opted to regularise their new processes after which preliminary hearing was completed.

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At the end of the preliminary stage, Justice Kekere-Ekun announced January 17, 2022 as new date to hear the suit.

The apex court had on July 14 granted an order of injunction stopping the Federal Government and its agencies from ceding the 17 disputed oil wells located at Akri and Mbede to Imo State.

Meanwhile, Justice Uwaezuoke Okorowo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the Federal Government to pay $1.638 billion to the Delta State Government, being the 13 per cent derivative fund due as arrears of revenue and payable to the state.

According to him, being a suit instituted to recover revenue accruing to the state government, it qualified for the undefended list.

The Judge held that the development made the court to declare the plaintiff’s case “unchallenged.”

Ken Njemanze (SAN), who had filed the suit on behalf of the state government, had urged the court to compel the government to pay five per cent of $50 billion recovered as additional revenue that accrued to the Nigerian government.

Delivering judgment on the suit, the judge dismissed the AGF’s preliminary objections challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit as well as the mode in which the case was instituted, ‘the undefended list.’

Okorowo had in an ex-parte application on July 22, 2021, ruled that the “plaintiff’s writ of summons be marked and placed on the undefended list.”

And in his verdict on Monday, the judge granted all the reliefs of the Delta government.

“The suit succeeds on its merit and all the reliefs sought by plaintiff are granted,” he said.

The Delta State government through its Attorney-General had in an affidavit setting forth the grounds upon which its claim was based, urged the court for an order “directing the defendant (AGF) to pay the sum of $1,638,396,277.00, being the 13 per cent derivative sum due as arrears of revenue payable to Delta State as assessed.”

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