FG’s $69m Suit Against Chevron: Court Stays Proceedings Until Sept. 26

Source: The Independent, 17.05.2018

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday adjourned until Sept. 26 for the decision of the Appellate Court in a $69 million suit filed by the Federal Government (FG) against Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd, seeking to recover oil revenue. The FG filed the suit against Chevron Nigeria Ltd (first defendant) and Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd (second defendant). The suit seeks to recover almost 12 billion dollars in missing crude oil revenue. The suit was filed by the FG through its counsel, Prof Fabian Ajogwu SAN, Principal Partner at Kenna Partners, in 2016. The FG had also sued Total E&P Nigeria 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 FG had also filed similar suits against Agip Oil Company Ltd, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd among others.

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. 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.

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, (Imhanze) 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.

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