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$1bn to fight B’Haram: Ekiti LG chairmen drags AGF, 36 governors to court

The ripples over the recent approval by the governors for the release of $1 billion towards fighting Boko-Haram in the North East is yet to die down as chairmen of the 16 Local Government Areas in Ekiti State have dragged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as governors of the 36 states of the federation to the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The approval was for the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account for the fight against insurgency.

The Ekiti LG Chairmen through their lawyer, Ola Olanipekun, filed the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1264/17, before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday.

A 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Everest Igweokolo, a litigation executive in Olanipekun’s law firm, was filed in support of the suit.

The plaintiffs prayed for an order of injunction restraining the Federal Government and the governors of the 36 states of the federation or their agents, from giving effect to “the appropriation and/or approval of appropriation of the sum of $1bn from the ECA of the Federation.

They contended that the approval of the $1bn, being challenged, was contained in the decision made on December 15, 2017 at the National Economic Council.

They maintained that the approval was invalid unless and it was by means of statutory allocation by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

They therefore prayed the court to declare that the approval of the sum of $1bn by the 36 state governors to “purportedly execute the constitutional duty of the Federal Government, which has been sufficiently funded from the Federation Account, without their consent, is ultra vires, unlawful, null and void.”

The plaintiffs also asked for the court’s order declaring that in the discharge of “its constitutional duty to safeguard the security and territorial integrity of Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria, being the 1st defendant’s principal, must be funded in accordance with its appropriation Act and by means of due accruals from the Federation Account only.”

Also sought by the chairmen is “a declaration that the 1st to 37 defendants’ appropriation and /or approval of appropriation of the sum of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account of the federation made at the National Economic Council meeting of December 12, 2017, without regard to the consent of the 38th defendant (the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission), the plaintiffs (integral part of the local governments of the federation of Nigeria) and the due appropriation of the various states’ Houses of Assembly, is unconstitutional, unlawful, ultra vires, null, void ab initio and of no effect whatsoever.”

They also asked the court for a declaration that they were “entitled to full share of all revenue accrued and accruable to the Federation Account and the Federation Excess Crude Account or any other Account whatsoever operated by and for the Federation of Nigeria, including the sum of $1,000,000,000 (which was purportedly approved for the expenditure of the Federal Government by the 1st to 37th defendants at the 83rd National Economic Council meeting of December 15, 2017, in accordance with Section 162 of the 1999 constitution and the provisions of Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) Act.”

They argued that “whether by the provisions of sections 153 (1) (h), 162 and paragraph 18, part 1 of the third schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the 1st to 37th defendants can lawfully appropriate and or approve the appropriation of funds in the excess crude account of the federation of Nigeria, without affecting, reducing or obliterating the plaintiffs’ lawful share of proceeds from the federation account.”

The plaintiffs asked the court to determine “whether the 2nd defendant can lawfully appropriate and/or approve the appropriation of funds in the excess crude account of the federation of Nigeria without the consent and/or consultation of the plaintiffs.”

Another issue they asked the court to determine was “whether in the discharge of the Federal Government’s constitutional duty of safeguarding the security and territorial integrity of Nigeria, (as mandated by Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government can lawfully resort to funding other than by means of its Appropriation Act.”

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