Case Closed: Attorney General says no re-opening of onshore-offshore oil debate
by Isi Esene
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke yesterday put closure to the issue of onshore-offshore dichotomy in the allocation of derivation proceeds in the country.
Adoke said the issue had been decided upon by the Supreme Court in 2005 warning politicians to stop seeking a re-opening of the finalised case.
The AGF reportedly made the assertion at a valedictory court session organised in honour of Justice Francis Fedode Emomotimi Tabai, who is leaving judicial service after reaching the mandatory age of 70 years on July 25.
He said, “In the light of the unanimous position of the Supreme Court on this issue, expressed since 2005, it behoves on us all to promote the sanctity of our judicial system by recognizing that the pronouncements of the Supreme Court should neither be treated with levity nor be subjected to undue politicization in the name of politics or the pursuit of particular interests.
“The court, in a well reasoned judgment after benefiting from the submissions of some of our country’s finest legal minds, reached the well-reasoned conclusion that the Act was not in conflict with the 1999 Constitution and was, indeed, properly made by the National Assembly to place the implementation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution on a more ‘certain and predictable basis’.
“Indeed, Hon. Justice G.A Oguntade, JSC (as he then was) put the matter succinctly when he declared as follows in his supporting judgment: ‘There is no doubt that this court has the jurisdiction to invalidate a law which is contrary to or inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. I have examined the 2004 Act again and again with a view to determining if there is anything intrinsic to it which is contrary to the letter and spirit of the 1999 constitution.”
He continued: “One notes with grave concern the recent deliberate attempt to resurrect this debate and elevate it to the level of an urgent national issue, with all its potentials to generate acrimonious wrangling within the polity, as if it were a fresh matter on which there had been no judicial determination in the past.
“Our country faces challenges today as we pursue the consolidation of our democracy and the triumph of the rule of law in all aspects of our national life. While there will undoubtedly be stresses and strains as we continue on the journey to perfect nationhood, a credible and truly independent judiciary remains the best guarantee for political stability and social cohesion.
Adoke ended by giving the assurance that the Executive arm of government will continue to cooperate with the judiciary to build the nation.