The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday rejected a request of the Rivers State Government to temporarily stop the deduction of funds from the Federation Account for the funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme
The state government’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), had at the Thursday’s proceedings, urged Justice Ahmed Mohammed to issue the interim order suspending the funds deduction after the Federal Government’s agents in the case pleaded for more time to explore the option of amicable resolution of the dispute in the case.
In response to the defendants’ request, Daudu urged to make the interim order or make the government’s lawyers to give an undertaking to stop the funds deduction pending the conclusion of the settlement talks.
But the defendants’ lawyers opposed the request for the issuance of an interim order and declined to give an undertaking for the suspension of the funds deduction.
Representing the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is joined as the first defendant in the case, Mr. Tijani Gazali, argued that the deduction of funds was based on provision of a law whose operations could not be stopped by consent of parties in a case.
“Agreed, it is a contractual relationship which is about give-and-take. But parties cannot by consent stop the operations of the law,” Gazali said.
Ruling, Justice Mohammed said it was clear that parties to the case could not reach any agreement.
He said while the court would not want to stand in the way of an amicable settlement of the matter, it would also not entertain any steps capable of frustrating the expeditious determination of the case.
Rather than granting the request for an interim order by the Rivers State Government, the judge reaffirmed the order of accelerated hearing which he earlier issued for the case on June 10.
He then adjourned the case till July 20 for hearing, but added, “This adjournment is without prejudice the right of parties to pursue an amicable settlement of the matter”.
While Gazali represented the Attorney-General of the Federation (the 1st defendant) at the Thursday’s proceedings, Mr K. E Idoko represented the Accountant-General of the Federation (the 2nd defendant) and Chinedu Achoume represented the Minister of Finance (the 4th defendant)
The 3rd defendant, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission was not represented by any lawyer at the Proceedings.
The Rivers State Government, through its Attorney-General of the Federation, had on May 20, 2020, filed the suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/511/2020, to challenge the constitutionality and validity of section 4(1)(a) and Section 4(1)(b) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act 2019, which permit the deduction of 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account and be paid to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.
The Governor Nyesom Wike-led Rivers State Government contended that it was not the responsibility of the state governments but that of the Federal Government to fund the police.