The latest episode was the 13th failed attempt to settle the dispute since the suit was filed in 2008.
This emerged on Thursday when the two parties appeared before a seven-member panel of justices of the Supreme Court to present the report on the proposed out-of-court settlement.
At the last hearing in the matter on September 25, the apex court had granted an adjournment at the instance of the Federal Government to enable the two sides to settle the matter out of court.
With the states willing to argue the suit, the apex court gave the Federal Government an ultimatum to reach an out-of-court settlement with them by November 22, failing which it would proceed to hear the matter on its merit.
However, when the case resumed on Thursday, the Federal Government and the states had yet to reach an amicable resolution of the dispute.
Counsel for the Federal Government, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), asked the court for more time to pursue the proposed out-of-court settlement.
But the states, represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), prayed the court to set a definite date to hear the matter.
The justices, headed by Justice Chukwuma Eneh, granted the request of the Federal Government, and adjourned the matter till May 9, 2013 for another report on out of court settlement.
However, the apex court said it would set a definite date to hear the matter if the dispute was not resolved out-of-court by May 9, 2013.
Eneh said, “Having listened to counsel in the matter and the failure of the defendant (Federal Government) to report back on terms of amicable settlement, this matter is hereby adjourned to May 9th, 2013 for report of settlement or a definite hearing date.”
He also ordered the parties to file their processes ahead of the hearing date if the amicable settlement failed.
Olanipekun had told the court that the Federal Government was interested in an all-inclusive meeting with the states in a bid to resolve the “lingering issues”.
He noted that the subject of the suit was a “purely political matter,” which ought to be resolved outside the court.
However, Awomolo while asking the court to take a definite date to determine the matter said, “It appears that the court may pronounce on the constitutionality of this matter, because the unresolved issues are beyond counsel in this matter but certainly below this court to adjudicate on, by way of setting down a definite hearing
Culled from Punch