A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana has asked the federal government to stop allocating oil blocks to individuals and corporate bodies.
The advice was given in a letter dated March 20 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The letter states: ”If the Federal Government refuses to accede to our request we shall be compelled to challenge the constitutional validity of allocating the oil blocks and other natural resources collectively owned by the Nigerian people but vested in the Federal Government to a few private individuals and corporate bodies.
“This request is in line with Section 16 (1) (b) of the Constitution which has mandated the Nigerian State to “control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity,” he stated.
He further stated that the allocation of oil blocks to a few individuals and corporate bodies by the federal government constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to freedom from discrimination, equal right of access to public property and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind as well as the right to social, economic and cultural development guaranteed by articles 2, 13, 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
“Therefore, pursuant to article 22 thereof which has imposed a duty on the Federal Government to freely dispose of the wealth and national resources of the nation in the exclusive interests of the Nigerian people we urge Your Excellency to desist from allocating oil blocks to a select group of Nigerians and foreigners,” he stated.
Falana pointed out that he made the request because majority of the owners of the oil blocks usually sub-lease them to offshore companies as they lack the fund and the technical expertise to develop the oil and gas industry.
“By merely collecting huge rents, the oil block owners become stupendously rich while the federal, state and local governments depend on loans and bailout to pay salaries and carry out basic infrastructural development of the country.
“Thus, by allocating oil blocks to a few individuals and corporate bodies the federal government has violated Section 16(2)(c) of the Constitution which provides that “the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group,” he stated.
He commended the government for revoking a number of oil blocks and marginal fields hitherto allocated to a few individuals and corporate bodies, and urged the government to desist from renewing the remaining licences of other oil block owners in the country.