22 July 2015, Lagos –Indications have emerged that the Managing Director of Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, Mr. Insula Massimo, is to face committal proceeding for allegedly disobeying the order of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt made on June 30, ordering that status quo be maintained in respect of a suit filed by Arco Group against Agip and three others.
Apart from Massimo, the Managing Director of Plantgeria, Mr. P. L. Carrodano, is also to face the committal proceeding.
Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had based on the suit instituted by Arco Group against the two firm, on June 30, ordered that status quo be maintained.
Before the order was made, the court was billed to take addresses from the counsel to the plaintiff and the defendants on the matter of jurisdiction of the court to handle the case.
However, the lead counsel to Arco Group, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had drawn the attention of the court to the fact that counsel to Agip, Mr. C. A. Ajuyah (SAN), had still not filed the mandatory memorandum of appearance and so urged the court to ask Agip’s counsel to comply with the rules of the court in that regard.
After exchange of arguments, the court asked counsel to Agip to file the mandatory memorandum of appearance before he could proceed with the issue of jurisdiction.
Olanipekun requested the court to make an order in writing to advise parties in the suit to maintain status quo.
Counsel to Agip, Ajuyah, said the order would not be necessary as Arco’s counsel had not exhibited any material to show their fear to warrant such an order.
Ajuyah said: “Nothing has been shown to the court that my Client has done or is planning to do anything to affect the res.”
Justice Akanbi then said: “The humble application of Olanipekun for an order to maintain status quo is harmless. I do not see any party doing anything that is capable of prejudicing my position as to whether or not the court has jurisdiction. Consequently, parties are hereby ordered to maintain status quo.”
The status quo was to enable the two companies and their agents not to award or take any step to award to any person, company or firm except Arco any contract whether designated as interim, stop-gap for the maintenance of gas turbines or rotating equipment at Agip’s OB/OB, Ebocha and Kwale gas plant, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for the order of interlocutory injunction.
Rather than obey the order of the court, Agip and Plantgeria, according to Arco Group, have refused to comply with order by ordering Arco’s staff to hand over to Plantgeria and subsequently denied them of access into the process area of the gas plants.
But in a Form 48 filed at the court, Arco has notified the companies of the consequences of their actions.
The application filed July 10 and directed to the two chief executive officers of the companies, read: “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in the order to maintain status quo made on June 30 by Justice Lambo Akanbi in the suit, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
*David Iriekpen – Thisday