A senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has asked the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to ensure the recovery of $62 billion owed by international oil companies (IOCs).
Recall that the supreme court had in 2018 ordered the federal government to take steps to recover all revenues lost to oil-exploring, following a suit filed by Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa over the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract of 1993.
The military is said to have entered into a contract with the oil firms at the time over the sharing formula, which was based on the sale of oil at $9 per barrel, with a plan to review the agreement when oil exceeds $20.
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However, according to the suit by the three states, the contract wasn’t reviewed, nor was the sharing formula adjusted following increase in the oil price.
A seven-member panel of the supreme court, led by Walter Onnoghen, the former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), had ruled in favour of the three states, and a committee set up to work out the modalities had calculated $62 billion as the arrears.
In a letter dated October 8 and addressed to Malami on behalf of Omotoye Olorode and Jaye Gaskia of the People’s Alternative Political Movement (PAPM), Falana reminded the AGF about the judgementdelivered by the apex court in 2018.
The senior lawyer said failure to recover the money will warrant that he approaches the federal high court to seek an order to compel the AGF to comply with the judgment.
“Our clients have instructed us to remind you that the Federal Government has not enforced the above mentioned Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered on October 20, 2018,” Falana wrote.
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“In the said Judgment, the apex court had directed the Federal Government to immediately take steps to recover all revenues lost to oil-exploring and exploiting companies due to wrong profit-sharing formula since August 2003.
“Based on the aforesaid Judgment, you did request for the immediate payment of the sum of $62 billion owed by the six international oil companies with joint operating agreements with the NNPC, namely Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company, TotalElf Nigeria and Pan Ocean Oil Company.
“But to the utter dismay of our clients, Mr. Diepere Silva, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources publicly stated that ‘Well, we have started discussions. Let us consider that as a lost opportunity; the money was not in a cupboard, they have taken it. Nobody can bring out that kind of money; I mean we can’t get $62billion. We can maybe get something from them but not $62billion. It’s an opportunity we have lost. We have already started discussions with them but what is clear is that it is a lost opportunity really.’
“In view of the foregoing, we have the instructions of our client to request you to use your good offices to ensure that the said sum of $62 billion is recovered from the International Oil Companies and paid into the Federation Account without any further delay.
“However, if you fail or refuse to accede to the request of our client, we shall not hesitate to approach the Federal High Court to seek an order to compel you to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in accordance with section 287(1) of the Constitution which provides that ‘The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court’.”
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