A Delta State born renowned human, environmental and development rights advocate, Comrade Sheriff Mulade has dragged the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and the Attorney-General of Delta State to High Court, Warri.
The claimant who is an indigene and former chairman of oil rich Kokodiagbene Community in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State is dragging the two former Governors, DESOPADEC board and the Attorney General of the State to court for the interpretation of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and section 13 (1) of the DESOPADEC Law of 2006 (as amended), 2007, 2015 and 2018 established to cater for the well-being of the Oil and Gas producing communities in the state.
According to him, the DESOPADEC Law 2006 (as amended), 2007, 2015 and 2018 respectively was established to expressly execute a clear mandate as stated in Section 13(1) of the Law which provides thus:
“The commission shall receive and administer exclusively 50% of the Oil Derivation fund accruing to the Delta State Government for;
a) The rehabilitation of the oil producing communities/areas of the state;
b) Other development projects as may be determined from time to time by the communities.”
The activist recently mobilized host communities under the auspices of Association of Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Delta State to the headquarters of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja, calling on the anti-graft agency to probe, investigate and recover the misappropriated fund back to DESOPADEC to enable them Development the oil producing communities in the State.
“It is unfortunate that previous administrations have starved the commission of its legal and lawful entitlement of 50% of the 13% Oil Derivation fund thereby making the commission moribund where projects are claimed to have been executed and commissioned only on papers and media documentary”, the activist lamented.
“I am equally dragging them to the court to account for the sum of N1.863,478,177,892.60 (ONE TRILLION, EIGHT HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE BILLION, FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY TWO THOUSAND, SIXTY KOBO) that was received by both administrations in line with the records available to me upon an application to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account to the Delta State Government between 2007 – 2022, which clearly shows that, the sum of N1.863,478,177,892.60 has been disbursed to the Delta State Government from July 2007 to December 2022, for the Rehabilitation and Development of the oil Producing Communities/Areas in Delta State”, he added.
Comrade Mulade said, “It is very disheartening and callous to note that despite the copious and unambiguous provisions of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 13 (1) of the DESOPADEC Law of 2006 (as amended), 2007, 2015 and 2018 respectively, the former Governors of Delta State, their Excellencies, Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan and Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa deliberately and flagrantly abused, violated and breached the above provisions of the Law and misappropriated the said funds for their personal use while at the helm of affairs of the state at the expense of the suffering people of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta State.”
He pointed out that Section 13 (1) of the DESOPADEC Law 2006 (as amended) 2007, 2015 and 2018, the commission is legally and lawfully entitled to 50% from the 13% oil derivation fund from the Federation Account which is calculated at N931,739,088,946.3k (Nine hundred and Thirty-One Billion, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Eighty-Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Forty-Six Naira, Three Kobo) from the Delta State Government for both administrations but the reverse was the case.
“It is imperative to state that from the information obtained and records available, it is obvious that the Delta Government grossly underfunded the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission particularly under Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who received whooping sum of N1.077,450,285,552,17 but consistently and deliberately disbursed less than the sum of N20,000,000,000 (Twenty Billion Naira) only annually for the past Eight Years. This was confirmed by the immediate-past State commissioner for information, under former governor Okowa, Mr Charles Aniagwu, that the state remitted N208 billion from 2015-2023 to DESOPADEC against N538,725,142.776,085k (FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT BILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE MILLION, ONE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX THOUSAND, EIGHTY-FIVE KOBO). We have a missing N330,725,142.776,085k (Three Hundred and thirty billion, Seven Hundred twenty five million, one hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Seven Hundred Seventy-Six thousand, fifteen kobo), excluding January 2023 — May 2023, those missing funds must be recovered by every means legally possible for the development of Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Delta State,” he stated.