The Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State, on Wednesday, fixed December 7, 2021, for hearing in the suit filed by the Ijaw Progressive Union of Aborigines against the Federal and the Delta State governments over the returned Ibori £4.2 million loot to the country by the British government.

The group had approached the court to demand, among others, the release of the funds to the government of Delta State and the utilisation of the same for projects in the oil-bearing communities of the state.

Joined in the suit with number FHC/WR/05/85/2021 are the Attorney General/Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (first respondent), the Attorney General/Commissioner of Justice, Delta State (second respondent), and the Accountant-General of the Federation (third respondent).

The presiding judge of the court, Hon. Justice Abang also fined the Attorney General of the Federation N31, 000 for his delay in responding to preliminary summon to the suit.

Justice Abang held that the First Defendant filed his reply on the summon 31 days outside the stipulated 30 days which was a breach of the rule of court, directing the defense counsel to make an adequate calculation based on paragraph 48 rule 1c of the Rule of Court and pay the default fee, accordingly.

While adjourning the case till December 7, 2021 for full hearing, Justice Abang promised to give an accelerated hearing to the matter and ordered that a fresh hearing notice be served to the Attorney General of the Federation.

Speaking on the outcome of the court sitting, the Secretary to the Ijaw Progressive Union of Aborigines, Mr. Philip Grade-One Clark expressed confidence and satisfaction with proceedings on the suit.

“We are here in court today because we the Ijaw Progressive Union of Aborigines discovered that the Ibori money that was returned to Delta State was not being properly accounted for by either the Federal Government or the state government. The Federal Government said they have returned the money.

“Initially, the Federal Government said the money belonged to them because the money was returned to them and that they would use it to do whatever they wanted, but people protested and at the end of the day, they then said they were going to return the money to Delta State.

“So we later heard that the money was returned, but later, the Accountant General of the state said that the money was not returned in full and we were hoping that more explanation would be done about the money but that never happened.

“The matter was being swept under the carpet, and that was why our body, fully registered as an NGO, came up and said we wanted to find out that if the money had been returned, let the state government use it to develop oil-bearing communities because they are so neglected, whether Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri or even Ndokwa oil-bearing communities, they are all neglected,” he asserted.

By Raymond Joe & PETERS