Yenagoa – Bayelsa State government has threatened to file a legal action against the Federal Government if it fails to deduct the 13 percent derivation element in the $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) earmarked for the buying of military equipment to fight insecurity in the country.
The state government, under Governor Seriake Dickson, restated its demanded that the 13 percent derivation element be removed from the proposed anti-insurgency funds and paid to the benefiting oil-producing states of the federation.
The state government made its legal threat known in a statement on Saturday signed by Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation.
It stated that the oil-producing states also have their peculiar security challenges to tackle in the Niger Delta region.
The state government had first stated its position in December 2017 when it demanded that the 13 percent derivation should not be part of the $1billion from the ECA which the National Economic Council approved during its meeting in December for the purchase of military hardware.
It had also formally presented its position to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is also the Chairman of the National Economic Council.
The government, in the statement, insisted that withdrawing the $1 billion without deducting and paying the 13 percent derivation to the oil- producing states would amount to arm-twisting them to make double contributions to the Federal Government security funds.
According to the government, the Federal Government would be treating the oil-producing states unjustly if it refuses to deduct the 13 percent derivation and send to them.
The statement said Bayelsa was not opposed to the withdrawal of the money to strengthen national security but that “the utilization of the funds involving the armed forces, intelligence services and the police must cover every part of the country.”
It added: “The Bayelsa State government will approach the court to enforce deduction of the 13 percent derivation component of the $1 billion ECA funds which the Federal Government claims it plans to withdraw to tackle insecurity.
“We have held meetings with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on this issue. We even backed it up with a formal letter to the President through the Vice President, which was taken to Abuja by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, and delivered by hand to the Vice President to underscore the importance we attach to the issue in question.
“Our position remains the same: while the state government is not opposing the planned withdrawal of the funds for security and indeed the general well-being of the society, it would be unfair and unjust to pull out the funds without releasing the 13 percent to the oil-producing states.
“An arrangement that compels a group of states to contribute twice to the fund while their counterparts contribute only part of their statutory allocations cannot be said to be just. The constitution is clear on this, and we shall approach the court to advocate our position.
“For the purpose of emphasis, Bayelsa has formally notified the Vice President who is Chairman of the National Economic Council on this matter.
“That Bayelsa is in support of the withdrawal of the funds to improve the capacity of the armed forces and security agencies to protect Nigeria and her citizens is not in doubt, but we are insisting that the right thing must be done.”
The statement further recalled that Governor Dickson had earlier suggested that the Federal Government constitute a committee of the Governor’s Forum to work with the Chairman of the National Economic Council and heads of the security agencies on the items listed to be procured with the ECA funds.
It reiterated that Bayelsa, like all other states of the federation, would like to know “what component of these security procurements would directly benefit the security architecture in the state (Bayelsa).”
The government said that only such transparent arrangement would allay the widespread fears already expressed over the planned expenditure by the various concerned bodies and well-meaning individuals in the country.
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