Subsidy suit: Court joins Falana, Aturu as co-defendants

Posted by Simon Imobo-Tswam, Abuja | 19 April 2013 | 5,330 times

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Justice Ademola Adeniyi of a Federal High Court in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, has joined two Lagos lawyers and human rights activists, Chief Femi Falana (SAN) and Bamidele Aturu, in a fuel subsidy suit filed by a former Anambra governorship candidate, Stanley Okeke, asking the court to compel President Gooduck Jonathan to fully remove the subsidy on fuel.

The court joined the two lawyers as 4th and 5th co-defendants after no objection of the motion by both the plaintiff and three other defendants, who include Jonathan, his Minister of Petroleum, Diezeni Allison-Madueke and Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.

The court therefore directed the plaintiff (Okeke) to file and serve all the processes to all the defendants within 14 days, while the defendants should also respond within another 14 days.

The judge consequently adjourned the suit to May 22 for hearing of the originating summons.

In the applications for joinder by both Falana and Aturu, the duo expressed how adversely they will be affected by withdrawal of subsidy regime claimed by the plaintiff.

They also brought to the notice of the court of a subsisting judgment of another Federal High Court judge, Justice Adamu Bello, who declared that the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry is unconstitutional, illegal and void in suit no. FHC/ABJ/SC/591/2009.

Okeke, the National Coordinator of Citizens Club, had since December last year sued President Jonathan seeking an order compelling him to refund back to the Federation Account such sum earlier appropriated and or approved under the sub-head of fuel subsidy funds or money because same cannot be justified in the face of the pervasive corruption, perennial fuel shortage and long queues being witnessed in the country.

The plaintiff is further asking the court for an order directing the 3rd defendant (Okonjo-Iweala) to stop further payment of fuel subsidy money predicated on the corrupt, illegal and unlawful fuel subsidy regime.

He also wants the court to declare that the fuel subsidy currently being funded by the Federal Government was a waste of public funds and therefore unlawful and illegal to sustain same.

Okeke is similarly praying the court for a declaration that the pervasive corruption inherent in the fuel subsidy scheme has caused untold hardship to the masses of the country and therefore is an abuse of the rights of Nigerians as guaranteed by the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Okeke’s questions for determination by the court include whether in view of the official corruption and abuse of office inherent in the fuel subsidy regime as evidenced by the in-going trial of certain individuals in the Federal High Court Lagos, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is validly competent to order the removal and or abolish the fuel subsidy scheme.

Others are: “Whether consequent upon the perennial fuel shortages ad the attendant long queues on our roads, it would be proper and lawful for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to completely remove and abolish the fuel subsidy regime.”

“Whether having regards to the near infrastructural collapse in our country, it would be proper to re-channel funds meant fuel subsidy scheme into the building of infrastructural facilities.”

“Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants being appointees of the President by not ensuring a corrupt free subsidy regime have not failed in their principal duty to Nigerians.”

Photo shows Femi Falana.

Source: News Express

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