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Court Restrains FG from Auctioning Seven Marginal Oil Fields

Michael Ojo

Justce Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday restrained the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, and the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from selling, auctioning or accepting bids for seven marginal fields belonging to some oil and gas operators.

The judge said the order would subsist pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The marginal field operators include Associated Oil & Gas Ltd/Dansaki Petroleum Ltd operator of Tom Shot Bank Marginal Field, Bayelsa Oil Ltd operators of Atala Marginal Field,  Independent Energy Ltd operator of Ofa Marginal Field,  Del-Sigma Petroleum Nigeria Ltd operator of Ke Marginal Field, Sogenal Energy Ltd operator of Akepo Marginal Field,  Sahara Energy Ltd/African Oil & Gas Ltd operator of Tsekelewu Marginal Field,  Bicta Energy and Management Systems Ltd operator of Ogedeh Marginal Field, Goland Petroleum Ltd operator of Oriri Marginal Field.

The marginal field operators, through their lawyers, Tayo Oyetibo SAN, Anthony George-Ikolie SAN, Uche Nwokedi SAN, Pascal Ememonu and Joshua Ayanda, commenced the suit at the court by way of originating summons, motion ex parte, motion on motice and affidavit of urgency, all dated  May 20, 2020 but filed on  May 21, 2020 against the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the AGF and the Director of DPR, challenging the purported revocation of the awards of marginal fields by the federal government sequel to a letter of revocation dated April 6, 2020.

They alleged that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the production and development of the affected marginal fields.

The lawyers also stated 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 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.

Among the orders sought by the lawyers include “an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents, jointly or severally, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, staff, agents, assigns, privies, associates, allies, representatives, successors-in-title or any person whomsoever from taking any further step or action pursuant to the respondents’ letter dated  April 6, 2020 to award, transfer, alienate, assign, sell or howsoever called, to any other person the marginal field(s) which were awarded to the applicants, in whole or any part thereof, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

“An order of interlocutory injunction mandating  the respondents, jointly or severally, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, staff, agents, assigns, privies, associates, allies, representatives, successors-in-title or any person whomsoever to allow the applicants to continue to manage, operate, control, explore, work, produce, win or howsoever called, the marginal fields which were awarded to the applicants respectively, in whole or any part thereof, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

After listening the lawyers, Justice Aneke in granting the motion on notice, noted that the respondents did not file any process in opposition and were also not represented by any counsel in court though they were also served with hearing notices that the matter was adjourned for hearing on  June 3, 2020.

The court then adjourned the matter to  June  29, 2020 for hearing of the substantive suit.

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