By Michael Ojo
A Federal High Court in Lagos Monday fined the Ondo State Government following its failed bid to join a suit challenging the Federal Government’s revocation of the Ororo Marginal Oil Field license.
The Ororo field, discovered in 1986, is located within OML 95 in shallow waters offshore Ondo State. It is owned by Owena Oil and Gas Ltd, with Ondo State being one of its shareholders.
Following the revocation of the license in April, Ondo State brought an application seeking to join suit FHC/L/CS/587/2020 filed by Owena.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Guarantee Petroleum Company Ltd are first to third respondents in the suit.
When the application was heard in October, Ororo Oil Field counsel Mr Kemi Pinheiro SAN, who led Mr Bisi Makanjuola, contended that the case challenging the license revocation “is totally different” from a shareholders’ case.
He prayed the court to dismiss the state’s application.
In his ruling on Monday Justice Muslim Hassan upheld Pinheiro’s argument and dismissed the application. The judge held that the state’s action was unnecessary because only a company that has suffered injury can bring an action to redress same and not its shareholders.
Hassan said: “I have listened to the parties, read all the processes and affidavit in support of application to be joined. I hold that only a company who suffers wrongdoing can institute an action to redress such act.
“I therefore hold that the motion for joinder brought by the Ondo State government is unmeritorious which ought to be dismissed. Consequently, this application is hereby dismissed.”
Following the ruling, Bisi Makanjuola as well as DPR counsel Mr A.S Aemri submitted that costs follow events and prayed the court for N500,000 costs against Ondo State.
While agreeing with their contention, Justice Hassan exercised his discretion and awarded N100,000 for each of them against the Ondo State Government.
The court adjourned further proceedings till January 14.
Last May 27, Justice Hassan restrained the Minister of Petroleum Resources and DPR from revoking the Ororo Marginal Field in OML 95 pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He granted an order of interim injunction against the respondents following Owena’s May 19 motion ex parte.
Hassan ordered the parties to maintain status quo in relation to the revocation pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
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