Prominent lawyers in the country have reacted to Bayelsa State government suit against the Federal Government, arguing that the N6.43 trillion allegedly spent on petroleum subsidy was kept as withheld fund.The state’s Attorney General, Kemasuode Wodu, has asked the Supreme Court to restrain the Federal Government from using part of crude oil revenue to pay petroleum subsidy
In his reaction on whether the Federal Government could spend money from the federation account without National Assembly approval, Mr. Johnson Esezoobo, said it was not proper for government to spend from federation account.
“Any money that they spend in that manner is extra legislative spending and boils down to impunity, illegality because there must be proper account for expenditure by the government. There must be proper expenditure. They are not expected to spend like that. It is very wrong,” he said.
Speaking, Ebun Olu Adgboruwa said: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 is clear on the issue of appropriation. The only way to spend money from the federation account is by appropriation and it is by the executive laying before the legislature a proposal, which is normally called budget. “If that has not been approved, any amount taken from the account without appropriation is totally unconstitutional, illegal and cannot stand the test of law.”
He argued that the executive, president and the federal executive council could not approve spending from federation account without the approval of the National Assembly. “Every money that must leave the federation account must get the consent of the National Assembly and if such money is spent, it will be totally illegal. So in that regard, the National Assembly represents the people of Nigeria.
“Right from Section 60 of the Constitution, it is specified clearly that only the National Assembly can authorise spending from the federation account. In case of spending from the federation account because of subsidy, if that is done then it is illegal. Subsidy was never captured in the last budget and is not in the present budget.
Also responding, Abubakar Sani said the money belongs to all the Federal, state and local councils and is to be shared according to the sharing formula approved by the National Assembly. “Things like this should be challenged at the appropriate level, which is the Supreme Court. It is wrong to spend money that doesn’t belong to them. That is fraudulent. They should put everything on the table,” he stated.
In his submission, Abdulaziz Chuba Ogbui said, states have the legal right to sue on such matters because it is wrong to dip hands into the federation account without any form of dialogue or resolution on that because that account is not only for the Federal Government and there is a kind of formula, which the government knows its own.“The federal government can spend its own part but not the one that belongs to the states. That is my view,” he said.