The Federal Government has been sued over its planned use of the £4.2million linked to former Delta State Governor James Ibori.
The President, League of Ndokwa Professionals (LNP), Chief Tony Amechi and Legal Adviser, Evans Ufeli, on behalf of the people of Delta State, are challenging the Federal Government’s plan to deploy the funds to projects outside Delta.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Minister for Finance are the defendants.
In their originating motion, the plaintiffs seek a declaration that the first and second defendants’ decision to deploy the yet to be repatriated sum of £4.2million belonging to Delta State government (when repatriated) for Federal Government’s projects is unconstitutional and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
They are, therefore, seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, whether by themselves, officers, agents, privies, servants or through any person or persons, howsoever, from deploying the yet to be repatriated £4.2 million (when repatriated) for any federal project.
They are praying for an order of the court directing the first and second defendants to reverse the Memorandum of Understanding to deploy the £4.2 million to the Federal Government’s projects.
They further asked for an order of directing the Minister of Finance to transfer the £4.2 million to the Delta government once paid to the Nigerian government by the British government.
The plaintiffs raised four issues for determination.
They asked the court to determine whether, having regards to the clear provisions of Section 12 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and whether by the combined reading, effect and/or expansion of Section 42 (1) a, b, (2) (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Article 35 of the of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the first and second defendants have the powers to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the British government on behalf of Nigerians without subjecting same to the National Assembly to be domesticated and rectified in accordance with Section 12 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
They also asked the court to determine whether, having regards to the combined effect and community reading of Section 150 (1), Section 174 (1), a, b ,c (2)(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which respectively defines the scope, power, functions and creation of the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, he should supervise an obnoxious practice to arm-twist Delta State of its resources under the guise that the recovered £4.2 million proceeds of crime will be used to fund the Abuja–Kano Road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.
They prayed the court to determine whether the third defendant owes a legal duty to the victims of the stolen fund to transfer it to the Delta State government for the development of the state.
In a 20-paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the suit, Evans Ufeli averred that on March 9, the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami (SAN) informed Nigerians about the Memorandum of Understanding.
He averred that following the report, he watched the Attorney-General on television saying that the £4.2 million would be deployed to fund federal projects.
He stated that, according to the first defendant, the second defendant has directed that the £4.2 million will be deployed towards the completion of the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Expressway and the Lagos Ibadan Expressway under the coordination of the Nigerian Social Investment Authority.
He contended that £4.2million belongs to the people of Delta and the state has not decided on what it intends to do with the said revenue.
Ufeli contended that the money was earned by the Delta State government as part of its Internally Generated Revenue and its 13 per cent derivation fund from the Federal Government monthly.
He stated that in 2012 , £5 million stolen by former Bayelsa Governor Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha was recovered and handed back to the state government.
He said Nigeria is administered by the principles of federalism where fiscal autonomy is driven through financial autonomy wherein the Federal Government’s revenues are clearly separated from state revenue.
He contended that it will amount to a violation of the constitutional right of the people of Delta and discriminatory of the state if the Federal Government is allowed to deploy the state resources to the Federal Government’s projects already appropriated for in the 2021 budget for just no cause.
He stated that upon receiving the above information, he wrote a letter of demand and pre-action notice to the defendants on behalf of himself and the first plaintiff requesting that they take immediate action to reverse their decision.
He argued that as a Delta indigene and public spirited individual, he has locus standi to institute the action in defence of the constitutional rights and entitlement of the people of Delta State.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.