Federal, states consider out of court settlement on Excess Crude Account disputes
Abuja (WorldStage Newonline)-- The Federal Government of Nigeria and State governments have till September, 2012 to resolve all issues of dispute on the Excess Crude Account (ECA), failure to reach a compromise; the Supreme Court will be forced to continue hearing on the issue.
This decision was reached on Tuesday at the Monthly National Economic Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said lawyers from both sides have been working on the issue to beat the deadline issued by the Supreme Court on out of court settlement.
Already, lawyers from both parties are expected to reach a decision within next two weeks, before the next National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. The Council also reviewed the present state of indebtedness of the country and also disaster management in the country.
Vice President Namadi Sambo statutorily presides over NEC meetings which also comprises of the 36 state governors, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of National Planning, Minister of State, Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The account was created by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2004 as a stabilization fund to protect the country against global economic crisis as witnessed between 2008-2009 global meltdown.
The idea was however turned down by the present governors’ who contested its legal status and also control of the fund which they said was exclusively under the federal government.
The state governors had recently threatened to approached the Supreme Court to stop the federal government from the continued deduction from source money to finance the fuel subsidy an action the governors described as “illegal”
Sanusi who briefed alongside Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, the minister of state, Finance, Yerima Ngama also noted that significant progress have been achieved as most issues of contention have been sorted out.
He said, "The sub-committee that was set up that had a number of state governors, the ministries and the CBN to try to fashion out out-of-court settlement has submitted its report. It is an interim report, the lawyers representing both parties have been discussions, and there has been a significant progression term of harmonising positions.
“The major issues that were the subject of contention were the excess crude account, the signature bonuses; collection cost; waivers and concessions; other dividends and Internal Generated Revenue (IGR); CBN charges which has been sorted out; NLG dividends; proceeds on sale of government properties; privatization proceeds; establishments and operation of federation account and incidental matters- FG expenditure on state and LGAs.
“The decision of NEC is that within two weeks, the lawyers should finalise the positions and the Ministry of Finance and the Governors should sit and agree and at the next NEC meeting, we should be able to get a solution. This solution is important because the Supreme Court has given us till second of September for an out-of-court settlement to be reached. If it is not reached then, the trial will continue. But from all indications, both parties are willing to arrive at an understanding of what is due to each party and also an understanding of how the indebtedness of any party to the other will be settled.”