A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, ordered the Federal Government to pay a total sum of $3.3 billion to Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, being their revenue share from crude oil sales.
The court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, specifically ordered that $1,114,551,610 be paid to Rivers State, while another sum of $2,258,411,586 be paid to Akwa Ibom State, being the amount they separately claimed against the Federal Government as share that ought to accrue to them from $62 billion recovered from oil companies.
The two states had in the suit through their Attorneys-General, joined the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as the sole defendant.
Justice Taiwo held that the failure of the AGF to respond to the suit after it was served on him, amounted to an admission of monetary claims of the two states.
He held that 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.
Justice Taiwo further held that by refusing to debunk through a counter-claim or to controvert the claims of the plaintiffs, the Federal Government wholly admitted all averments in the affidavit before the court.
He said the decision of the court to grant the relief the plaintiffs sought in the suit was anchored on a Supreme Court judgment that stipulated how proceeds from sales of crude oil should be shared.
The court said: “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 State as its own share from the oil proceeds.”
The two plaintiffs had instituted their joint case on the basis of a press statement from the office of the AGF, wherein he disclosed that $62 billion was recovered from foreign oil companies as proceeds of crude oil sales.
Justice Taiwo held that although, the AGF’s office attempted to withdraw the press statement, the issue of the huge revenue generation was not addressed.
He held that the Federal Government in view of the absence of any material to contradict what was contained in the AGF’s press statement proved that the said $62 billion was actually recovered from oil companies.
The court, hence ordered the Federal Government to release the shares of the two states to them in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment.