Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Lagos Federal High Court, Lagos, today, fixed July 10, 2020, for ruling on the Ministry of Petroleum and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) application, seeking to set aside an order of the court restraining them from withdrawing the license issued to 10 Marginal Oil Field operators.
Justice Aneke fixed the date, after taking arguments from the both counsel to the Ministry of Petroleum and Engineer Auwalu Sarki, a director in DPR, the first and third respondents and 10 Marginal Field Operators, the applicants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/597/2020.
Justice Aneke, had on June 3, restrained Ministry of Petroleum, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Engineer Sarki, from withdrawing the license issued to the 10 Marginal Field Operators, after listening to Mr. Uche Nwokedi (SAN) who argued the exparte application filed before the court.
The marginal field operators that instituted the suit against the respondents are; Associated Oil & Gas Limited, Dansaki Petroleum Limited; Bayelsa Oil Limited; Bicta Energy and Management Systems Limited: Del-Sigma Petroleum Nigeria Limited; Sogenal Energy Limited; Independent Energy Limited; Sahara Energy; African Oil & Gas Limited and Goland Petroleum Limited
In urging the court to grant the exparte application, lawyers to the Marginal Field Operators, Mr. Nwokedi (SAN) alleged alleged that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the production and development of the affected marginal fields. Adding that the purported revocation of their awards of marginal fields by the government violated their constitutional rights to fair hearing, their rights under the Petroleum Act and under the guidelines governing marginal fields in Nigeria.
They also urged the court to halt the attempt by the federal government to include the affected marginal fields in the next bidding rounds for award of marginal fields as it recently announced pending the determination of the substantive suit.
At the resumed hearing of the respondents’ application dated June 11, 2020, for setting aside the originating motion that gave birth to the restrained order, Mr. Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) leading Mr. Wale Olawoyin (SAN) and Adebayo Ologe, lawyers to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mr. Auwalu Sarki, said their application was premised on none proper service.
Oyeyipo (SAN) told the court that their clients, Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Mr. Auwalu Sarki of DPR, got the court order through DPR’s official email, email@example.com, and that the plaintiffs got automated acknowledgement, while the originating motion was served through email address firstname.lastname@example.org, not been used by the Department.
Oyeyipo (SAN) also told the court that, even if the applicants are to serve the respondents via email, it must be done with an order of the court, but the applicants failed to follow due process as stipulated by the Court’s Rules. Adding that DPR’s visitors’ dated May 29 and 30, 2020, did not reflect the presence of one Joshua Aayanda, and a bailiff of the court, to suggest that the said originating motion was taken to the Department.
Based on the above, the respondents lawyers, urged the court to strike out the originating motion leading to the interlocutory injunction.
Responding, Mr. Tayo Oyetubo (SAN) leading Mr. Uche Nwokedi (SAN) and other lawyers, while urging the court to dismiss the respondents’ application, told the court that due process was follow in serving both the originating motion and the court’s order on the respondents.
Oyetubo (SAN), argued that the processes and the order were served on the respondents in line with practice rule.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the respondents applications.
Justice Aneke, after listening to both parties adjourned the matter till July 10, for ruling