02 June 2014, Lagos – The legal battle over the suit instituted by Brittania-U Nigeria Limited against Chevron Nigeria Limited over the sale of Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 52, 53 and 55 has shifted to the Court of Appeal in Lagos as a Federal High Court has adjourned the suit to enable the appellate court decide the issue of jurisdiction.
Britannia-U also joined as defendants, Chevron United States Inc, BNP Parbas Securities Corp, Mr. Hermant Petel and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc.
Justice Yinusa Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Lagos adjourned the suit indefinitely following the appeal filed by Chevron challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate on the matter.
The judge had in a ruling delivered on May 23 assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter.
But at the resumed hearing of the matter last Friday, counsel to the 5th defendant (Seplat Petroleum), Mr. Etigwe Uwa (SAN), disclosed that his client had appealed against the decision on the issue of jurisdiction.
He submitted that the notice of appeal and an application seeking stay of proceedings in the matter are already before the court.
Uwa urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable the appellate court rule on the matter.
Also, counsel to Chevron, Mr. A. O. Ayodeji, informed the court that an appeal had been lodged before the Court of Appeal and urged the court to stay further proceedings pending in the decision of the court on the issue of jurisdiction.
In his response, counsel to Britannia U-Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ricky Tafa (SAN), did not object to the application seeking stay of proceedings.
He submitted that since an appeal had been filed, it would be in the interest of justice to allow the appellate court rule on the appeal.
Consequently, Justice Mohammed in a bench ruling adjourned the matter indefinitely pending the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the suit.
The plaintiff (Britannia-U Nigeria Limited) had approached the court to seek a declaration that by the final bidding offer of $1,015,000,000.00 for the acquisition of 40 per cent participating interest of Chevron Nigeria in the three leases had been accepted by the first defendant.
In its statement of claim, the plaintiff stated that the second defendant (Chevron USA), requested Britannia-U to provide the firm’s board commitment letter issued by the plaintiff’s bankers for payment of the balance of $765million which was complied with.
The plaintiff added that its bankers directly paid the money to the 2nd defendant (Chevron Corp) at their Houston office on November 15, 2013, arguing that with that, it followed that the parties had entered into a binding contract for the acquisition of the OMLs 52, 53 and 55 by the plaintiff.
– This Day