Supreme Court Strikes Out Bayelsa Govt. Appeal On Disputed Oil Field

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The Supreme Court has struck out a suit filed by the Bayelsa State Government challenging the ruling of Federal High Court Abuja that the state should refund the 13 percent derivation it had received from the disputed Soku oilfield

A seven man panel of the Court, presided by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta on Tuesday, ruled that the Bayelsa State Government erred by seeking the nullification of the Judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered in favour of Rivers State, when the Court of Appeal has not even ruled on the matter.

Justice Ngwuta wondered why the Bayelsa State Government decided to file the suit at the apex court, when steps were being taken to challenge the judgement of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal.

He described the move as an abuse of court process and forum shopping while asserting that there was no way the Supreme Court can make pronouncement on a judgment that was given by a Federal High Court when the appellate court has not done so.

The Presiding judge held that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction on a matter relating to a High Court.

He subsequently directed the Bayelsa State government to take its grievances to the Court of Appeal.

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It will be recalled that the Bayelsa State government had filed the suit through its Attorney General against the Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of Rivers State, after the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered it to refund the 13 percent derivation it had received over the years from Soku oilfield, to Rivers State.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, while delivering judgement in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/984/19,filed by Attorney-General of Rivers State against the National Boundary Commission, based on documents from relevant government agencies , had declared that the Soku oilfields belong to Rivers State.

Ekwo ruled that the failure and refusal of the National Boundary Commission to rectify the admitted mistake in the 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria since 2002 which erroneously showed St Batholomew River instead of River Santa Barbara as the interstate Boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States ,was a breach of commission’s statutory duty and a flagrant disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgment delivered on 10/7/2012 in Suit Number SC. 106 /2009.

The judge held that the continued reliance on the said defective 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria by the Revenue Mobilisation , Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation in the computation of revenue accruable to Rivers State from the Federation Account has resulted in the continued unjust denial of derivation funds accruing from the Soku oil wells situate within Rivers State to the detriment of the State Government.

Justice Ekwo then directed that notice be served of the decision of the Court on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation.

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