24 March 2015, Lagos – The Supreme Court on Monday could not hear the appeal in the case involving Brittania-U Nigeria Limited and Chevron Nigeria Limited, as the apex court stated that the appeal cannot be heard when the issue in litigation before the court had allegedly been disposed off by the respondent during the pendency of the appeal.
Rickey Tarfa (SAN); Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) and six other junior lawyers represented the appellant, Brittania-U, while D.D.Dodo (SAN) appeared for Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, which is the first respondent.
Uche Nwokedi (SAN) appeared for Chevron Nigeria and Chevron Corporation of the United States, the second respondent and the fourth respondent, while A.V. Etuwewe represented the third and fifth respondents.
The appellant’s counsel informed the court that they were compelled to file a motion for a mandatory restorative order to reverse overreaching steps allegedly taken by Chevron and Seplat to get the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to consent to the divestment of Chevron’s 40 per cent interest in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 53 and 55 , despite the appeal that was pending in court.
Dodo on his part informed the court that they had a motion to amend their respondent brief while A.V Etuwewe applied for extension of time to regularise his own respondent brief.
The two motions were granted unopposed but a cost of N50,000 was awarded against the third and fifth respondents in favour of the appellant.
The appellant thereafter informed the court of their latest motion filed on March 19, 2015 asking the court to invoke its disciplinary jurisdiction to reverse certain actions allegedly taken by Seplat and Chevron to overreach the subject matter of the appeal before the court.
The appellant is praying for four prayers, including a mandatory/restoration order setting aside the first respondent’s written request of July 30, 2014 to the Petroleum Minister for ministerial consent validating the transaction; and a mandatory/restorative order setting aside the purported ministerial consent obtained by the second respondent in favour of the first Respondent in flagrant disregard of the admonition to counsel by the apex court during proceedings of February 24, 2015.
The appellant is also praying for a mandatory/restorative order setting aside the purported or alleged transfer of the three oil blocks and all steps taken so far by the respondents to overreach the outcome of the appeal and a mandatory/restorative order reversing and re-vesting the purported divested title of the three blocks in the 2nd respondent pending the outcome of the extant appeal.
The court after going through the motion decided that the appeal would be stepped down until the court disposes of the motion seeking mandatory restorative orders sought by the appellant.
At this stage, the respondents said they were served with further affidavits in respect of the mandatory restorative orders on March 20, 2015 and that they needed time to respond to them.
The court granted the respondents 10 days to file their counter affidavits to the appellant’s motion for mandatory restorative order and further affidavits in support.
The court also ordered parties to file and exchange written addresses within at 14 days intervals in respect of the motion and adjourned hearing to May 18, 2015.
Tarfa drew the attention of the court to the further affidavits filed showing that Chevron had concluded plans to hand over the assets to Seplat by April 16, 2015.
But Nwokedi said the newspapers’ report was neither here nor there and that the court should not go by it.
The court however noted that since the respondents were yet to file their counter affidavits, it would prefer not to go into the merit of the motion but that whoever would overreach the motion does it at its own peril.
– This Day