Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Three oil producing states of the Niger Delta, on Wednesday, got a landmark judgment at the Supreme Court of Nigeria against the multinational oil firms operating in the country.
The three states namely Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom, had approached the Supreme Court for interpretation of Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act in suit number SC964/2016 filed on their behalf by their lead Counsel, Mr. Lucius Nwosu, (SAN).
The particular Section requires the Federal Government to adjust the shares of the revenue accruable to the Federation whenever the price of crude oil exceeds 20 Dollars per barrel.
The judgment delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro mandated the Federal Government to embark on an upward adjustment of the shares of revenues accruing to the government whenever the price of Crude Oil exceeds 20 Dollars per barrel.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State celebrated the verdict he described as a victory for the littoral states and indeed the Nigerian Federation in statement by his Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Wednesday.
According to the governor, “Even before the first offshore swamp oil well was discovered under the particular Act by the Nigeria AGIP Energy, the price of crude oil had exceeded 20 Dollars per Barrel being used as a benchmark to share oil revenues in the state.”
He stressed that in spite of the express agreement that shares from the oil revenue accruable to the Federal Government should be adjusted, the benchmark being used by the multinational oil firms has been static at 20 Dollars per Barrel to date.
The governor who spoke on behalf of his counterparts from Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, said that the judgment demonstrated “the primacy of the law in the socio-economic emancipation of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the instrumentality of the government and people of Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.”
Governor Dickson stated further that the implication of the judgment was increase in revenues accruable to the federating states under the extant revenue sharing formula.
He commended the Supreme Court for demonstrating the courage to uphold the rule of law in landmark verdicts required to rekindle the confidence of the deprived people and communities of the Niger Delta and indeed the Nigerian Federation.
Governor Dickson continued, “We commend the Supreme Court of Nigeria for upholding the Rule of law.
“The courageous intervention of the SCN in this case and other cases is what is needed to bring confidence to the long suffering people’s and communities of the Niger Delta and the country at large.
“This judgement shows clearly that the judiciary is ready and has the courage in deciding cases to uphold the rights of oppressed people.
“We call on other courts in the judicial system to rise to the occasion in order to give the assurance that oil majors and oil block owners operating in our communities will respect the laws of the land.”
The governor called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the relevant agencies to ensure expeditious implementation of the judgment in the interest of the government and citizens of the country.
He assured the people of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian Federation that the law could always be used to redress grievances rather than the recourse to self help.