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$12.4billion Oil Windfall: “Justice Kolawole wants to bungle this case” – SERAP



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A coalition of civil society organizations led by SERAP has raised alarm that an Abuja Federal High Court judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, was planning to bungle its case seeking a court order compelling the Federal Government to publish the controversial Okigbo panel report which allegedly detailed the mismanagement of a whooping 12.4billion dollars of oil revenues accrued primarily to two special accounts during the Ibrahim Babangida government.

The alarm followed the absence in court of Justice Gabriel Kolawole, scheduled to deliver its judgment last Friday and on its decision to adjourn the judgment in the case sine die (indefinitely). SERAP argued that, although, the adjournment was just the second in the last three months, it contended that it was a dangerous one to the case in view of the provision of section 194 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

he section provides that: “Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than ninety days after the conclusion of evidence and final addresses and furnish all parties to the case or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof.” The judgment in the case was initially scheduled for 28th July, 2011.

But on the day in question, Justice Kolawole declared that the judgment was not ready. He subsequently adjourned the case till 21st October to deliver the judgment which amounts to 85 days after the conclusion of evidence and final addresses in the case. Except the judgment is deliver between Monday and Wednesday this week, the entire proceedings and any judgment given after the statutory 90 days would amount to nullity. But the judge has however adjourned the case sine die.

It would be recalled that eminent economist and scholar, Dr. Pius Okigbo, was appointed chairman of a committee to probe the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria and he released a report critical of the government’s role in mismanaging 12.4billion dollars of oil revenues accrued primarily to two special accounts. That reports is popularly known as the Okigbo Report. The Pius Okigbo panel report on the 1991 $12.4b Gulf War windfall was neither made public nor was any white paper released on it.

Infact, it was said to be missing by the Obasanjo administration.

The report allegedly indicted former military President Ibrahim Babangida who was accused of mismanaging the windfall. A coalition of civil society organizations led by SERAP claimed they found the report and petitioned the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to probe Babangida for alleged mismanagement of the fund. The organization had urged Adoke to implement the recommendations of the late Pius Okigbo panel report which indicted Babangida over the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the fund.

They were concerned that since the report was submitted to the late General Sani Abacha’s regime on the 29th August 1994. Successive administrations had failed to act on it. It was at this juncture that the civil society organizations invoked the original jurisdiction of the courts to compel the government to publish and implement the recommendations of the panel report.  

…same judge is planning to kill Nigerian football –NANF

 As if planned, the National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF) has raised an alarm against the same Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja of planning to kill Nigerian football with the refusal to undertake the contempt charges against the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

NANF in a release in Abuja at the weekend said, there are two motions before him to stay the execution of the judgment on the NPL as filed by Davidson Owumi. The NFF went on to do the kangaroo election that brought in Victor Baribote as a result of his refusal to hear the motion. The judge had resisted the joinder of the NANF and the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) in the suit. As soon as his judgment was given, a stay of execution of that judgment was filed by Owumi’s counsel, Ameh SAN, and the counsel of the NANF and NFA also filed stay of execution. Till date, Justice Kolawole is yet to give a date to address the motions of stay of execution.

We appreciate that he has the discretion to stay his judgment. We also know too that it is trite legal practice that once a notice of appeal is filed, the judgment should not be carried out. Yet, the NFF in desperation went on to carry out the judgment by crowning in a selection process their acolyte, Victor Baribote, not even in tandem with the extant rules and regulations governing such conducts.

This was done even against legal advice from the office of the sports minister. Why is the judge finding it difficult to take the contempt issue filed against the NFF and Baribote? Why did the NFF/Baribote even when served the processes went on to make the court look like a jester? Why did the NFF swore to two conflicting affidavits about itself making Nigerian courts become a toy?

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