The Federal Government has requested an out-of-court settlement of a suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja by the Rivers State Government, challenging the monthly deductions from the Federation Account to fund the Police Trust Fund scheme.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata (SAN), who appeared for the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which was joined as the first defendant in the suit, told Justice Ahmed Mohammed that the Federal Government called for settlement talks with the plaintiff because the issue bordered on security.
Apata said, “We had discussion with learned counsel for the plaintiff. This matter is predicated on security of Nigeria as a corporate entity and we consider it, looking at a larger picture, more profitable to sit down together for amicable resolution of the matter.
“I want to inform My Lord that we have started the discussion.”
He pleaded with the judge to adjourn the suit to enable the parties to conclude talks on the issue.
Rivers State Government’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), confirmed that “the defendants have approached the plaintiff for an amicable settlement.”
He added, “We are not averse to this. I will therefore not be opposing the application for a short adjournment.”
Also, Mr K. E. Idoko, representing the Accountant-General of the Federation and Chinedu Achemie, representing the Minister of Finance (the 4th defendant), also confirmed the planned talks.
The 3rd defendant, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, was not represented by any lawyer at the Proceedings.
Following the confirmation of the planned talks by parties, Justice Mohammed adjourned till October 7 for report of settlement.
The Rivers State Government, had through its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, 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.
Its lawyers led by Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) argued that by virtue of Section 162 (3) of the Nigerian Constitution, funds standing to the credit of the Federation Account “can only be distributed among the Federal Government, state governments and local government councils in each state of Nigeria and not directly to any agency of the Federal Government, including the Nigeria Police Force.”