A Delta State High Court in Warri has fixed October 24 for the trial of a suit filed by members of the oil and gas-producing communities in the state against two former governors, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa.
The plaintiffs had gone to court to compel the two former governors to give accounts of the 13 per cent oil derivation funds that accrued to the state during their tenures.
Recall that aggrieved members of the oil and gas producing communities in Delta State, led by a renowned human and development advocate, Sheriff Mulade, had recently staged a peaceful protest at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja, imploring the anti-graft agency to investigate and recover their missing and misappropriated funds back to Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission to enable the state commission to carry out developmental projects.
Sheriff, had approached the court seeking the interpretation of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 13 (1) of the DESOPADEC Law 2006 (as amended) 2007, 2015 and 2018.
Specifically, the plaintiffs are praying the court to direct the erstwhile governors “to account for over N1.8tn of the 13 per cent oil derivation funds to oil producing communities of Delta State during their administration.”
At the resumed sitting on the case on Tuesday, representatives of Itsekiri, Ndokwa and Isoko ethnic nationalities filed to join the suit seeking interpretation and accountability of 50 per cent of the 13 per cent oil derivation fund to Delta State under the two former governors.
The trial judge, Justice V.O. Agboje, fixed the date on Tuesday shortly after the case was mentioned in court.
Speaking with journalists shortly after Tuesday’s court session, Mulade, the former Chairman of the oil-rich Kokodiagbene Community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government, noted that the immediate past Commissioner for Information in Delta State, Charles Aniagwu, confirmed to Arise TV that former governor Okowa remitted only N208bn against N538,725,142,776.085.
Mulade affirmed that the commissioner’s assertion “means that over N330bn oil and gas producing communities of Delta State’s money is missing, therefore we demand accountability.”
“It is worthy of note that what we are fighting for is to recover our missing funds and equally free the state from the claws of the immediate-past governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, to enable our amiable Governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s administration to be independent and deliver on his electoral mandate and promises to the Delta people through his M.O.R.E Agenda.”
“It is unfortunate to state that based on available records, Governor Oborevwori met an empty treasury and some of the Delta State accounts have less than a billion naira which has forced the State Government to borrow a huge sum of money in less than one month in office under the guise of settling local government pensioners in the state,” Mulade added.