A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned the Federal Government’s $69m oil revenue suit against Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd until Sept. 26.
The FG filed the suit against Chevron Nigeria Ltd and Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Lt as first and second defendants respectively in a bid to recover oil revenue belonging to the Nigerian government.
The suit, among other suits filed by the FG, seeks to recover almost 12 billion dollars in missing crude oil revenue from some international oil companies.
At the last adjournment on March 1, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had awarded a cost of N100,000 against the second defendant,
(Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd) and dismissed its preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court on grounds of|
service of court processes.
In its objection, the defendant had urged the court to set aside a purported service of an amended writ of summons and amended
statement of claims on the second defendant for being incompetent.
The defence counsel had argued that the second defendant was not served with the amended processes in accordance with the
provisions of the law and urged the court to so hold.
Delivering its ruling on the objection at the last sitting, the court had held that service of originating processes was fundamental
to the jurisdiction of the court, adding that such service must be personal except where personal service is not possible.
The court held that by the provisions of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, no such service of court processes shall
be necessary where the defendant by his legal practitioner undertakes in writing to take service.
The court had further held that where a party by this means, accepts service, he cannot deny same, adding that from records, it
could be recalled that the processes were served.
The court consequently dismissed the objection, adding that it was totally and absolutely a waste of time which is unbelievable.
Besides, the court had expressed displeasure that since 2016 when the case was brought to court, there had been so many applications which had stalled progress of the suit.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered that the cost of N100,000 should be paid seven days from the date of the award.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the court, the defendant had filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal, challenging the ruling.
At the resumed hearing of the case before the Federal High Court, Mr Ituah Imahnze again appeared for the FG alongside Mr
Chineme Onuoma, while Mr Hamid Abdulkareem announced appearance for the defendants.
The defence counsel then informed the court that there was already an appeal pending before the appellate court, adding that
there was also a motion for stay of proceedings in the suit pending appeal.
Meanwhile, FG’s counsel, (Imahnze) has informed the court that the plaintiff was ready to proceed with trial for the day since
its witness was in court.
He, however, said that in the light of the appeal already entered by the defendants, he would be guided by the decision of the court.
After listening to the counsel, Justice Olatoregun consequently gave a long adjournment of the case until Sept. 26 for a report of
the proceedings at the Court of Appeal.
The suit was filed by the Federal Government through its counsel, Prof Fabian
Ajogwu (SAN) in 2016 against some international oil companies (IOCs) to recover lost revenues arising from undeclared
and under-declared crude oil shipments from Nigeria to different parts of the world.
The FG had also sued Total E&P Nigerai Plc, alleging that the oil company under-declared the volume of crude oil it shipped
out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.
The government accused the oil company of short-changing it to the tune of 245 million dollars by allegedly shipping several
barrels of crude oil out of Nigeria without making due remittances to the government.
The FG had also filed similar suits against Agip Oil Company Ltd, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd among others.