The state government of Osun has warned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, against withdrawing a whopping $1billion from the Excess Crude Oil Account for the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
Okonjo-Iweala had, some few days ago, said that the Federal Government would withdraw the sum of $1billion from the Excess Crude Oil Account and to be saved at the SWF on behalf of the 36 states of the federation.
Reacting to the minister’s proposed step, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, said any activity on the Excess Crude Oil Account were expected to be suspended, pending the determination of the suit filed against the Federal Government by the 29 states on the account.
Akere, in an interview with OSUN DEFENDER, said the Finance Minister’s actions on the SWF amounted to executive lawlessness and that they were inconsistent with the rule of law.
According to the commissioner, all parties on the SWF suit were expected to wait and suspend their actions, pending the determination of the litigation, maintaining that the attempt to withdraw money from the account was unlawful.
It would be recalled that Osun and 28 other states had some years back dragged the Federal Government before a Federal High Court on the latter’s alleged manipulation of the Excess Crude Oil Account and failure to remit all monies due to the Federation Account.
The states were also demanding that all the entitlements due to the states and local government in the country should be released from the excess crude oil account.
Former President Umar Yar’Adua had appealed to the aggrieved states to settle the matter out of court, just as he had commissioned his then deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to chair the settlement committee.
The Federal Government, according to Akere, agreed with the states on eight out of the 10 conditions put forward by the states before the death of President Yar’Adua.
Yar’adua’s death changed the tides of the settlement and the states continued to pursue their case at the Supreme Court with Mr Adegboyega Awomoolo (SAN) being their counsel.
Akere, however, challenged Okonjo-Iweala to say categorically whether the Supreme Court is not competent to adjudicate on the matter again, saying that it is contemptuous for the finance minister to take any action on a case before the court.