Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson

The Bayelsa state government on Saturday stated its readiness to sue the federal government over the $1bn security fund withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

The state government said the federal government must deduct from the money the 13 percent derivation component of the money or face a lawsuit.

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This was disclosed in a statement by the state commissioner for information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson.

He said his principal, the state governor, Seriake Dickson, insists the derivation must be deducted and sent to all oil-producing states.

According to Dickson, a refusal to do so is tantamount to asking oil-producing states to make double contributions to the security funds.

The state government has since formally presented its position to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is also the chairman of the National Economic Council NEC).

The governor had stressed that while Bayelsa was not opposed to the withdrawal of the funds to enhance national security, “the utilization of the funds involving the armed forces, intelligence services and police must cover every part of the country.”

The Commissioner said, “The Bayelsa State Government will approach the court to enforce deduction of the 13 percent derivation component from 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, President 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 allocation 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.”