A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to recover a $62 billion debt owed by six international oil companies.
In a letter dated October 8 and obtained by Channels Television on Sunday, Falana said the Supreme Court in 2018 had ordered the Federal Government to immediately recover the debt.
But, based on the posture of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, it appeared the Federal Government wasn’t committed to the recovery process, Falana said.
“We are Solicitors to Professor Omotoye Olorode and Jaye Gaskia of the People’s Alternative Political Movement (PAPM) on whose behalf we write this letter,” Falana’s letter said.
“Our clients have instructed us to remind you that the Federal Government has not enforced the above-mentioned Judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered on October 20, 2018.
“In the said Judgment the apex court had directed the Federal Government to immediately take steps to recover all revenues lost to oil-exploring and exploiting companies due to wrong profit-sharing formula since August 2003.
“Based on the aforesaid Judgment, you did request for the immediate payment of the sum of $62 billion owed by the six international oil companies with joint operating agreements with the NNPC namely Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company, TotalElf Nigeria and Pan Ocean Oil Company.
“But to the utter dismay of our clients, Mr. Diepere Silva, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources publicly stated that ‘Well, we have started discussions. Let us consider that as a lost opportunity, the money was not in a cupboard, they have taken it. Nobody can bring out that kind of money, I mean we can’t get $62billion. We can maybe get something from them but not $62billion. It’s an opportunity we have lost. We have already started discussions with them but what is clear is that it is a lost opportunity really.’
“In view of the foregoing, we have the instructions of our client to request you to use your good offices to ensure that the said sum of $62 billion is recovered from the International Oil Companies and paid into the Federation Account without any further delay.”
Falana said his clients will be forced to approach the Federal High Court to seek a compelling order if the AGF fails or refuses to enforce the Supreme Court judgement.