By Sandra Umeh
The Federal High Court, Lagos, has adjourned until Feb.13, 2019, a $69 million suit filed by the Federal Government against Chevron Petroleum Nigeria, seeking to recover oil revenue.
The FG filed the suit against Chevron Nigeria Ltd, and Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd, as first and second defendants respectively.
The case which was adjourned for a report of proceedings at the Court of Appeal, could not proceed on Tuesday, as the court did not sit.
The judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun is said to be attending a seminar .
The case, was therefore, further adjourned until Feb. 13, 2019, for a report of proceedings at the Appellate Court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suit is one among other suits by the FG, seeking to recover almost 12 billion dollars in missing crude oil revenue from some international oil companies.
During a court processing on March 1, Justice Olatoregun dismissed a preliminary objection by the second defendant (Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd), challenging the jurisdiction of the court, on grounds of service of court processes.
The court awarded a cost of N100,000 against the second defendant.
In its objection, the defendant had urged the court to set aside a purported service of an amended writ of summons and amended statement of claim on the second defendant, for being incompetent.
Defence counsel had argued that the second defendant was not served with the amended processes in accordance with the provisions of the law, and had urged the court to so hold.
In its ruling, the court had dismissed the objection and held that service of originating processes was fundamental to the jurisdiction of the court, adding that such service must be personal except where personal service is not possible.
The court had further held that where a party undertakes to accept service, he cannot deny same, adding that from records, it could be recalled that the processes were served.
Consequently, the court had dismissed the objection, and expressed displeasure, that since 2016 when the case was brought to court, there had been so many applications, which had stalled progress in the suit.
Dissatified with the ruling of the court, the defendant had filed an appeal before the appeallate court, challenging the ruling of the court.
At the last adjourned date, defence counsel had informed the court that the appeal is pending before the appellate court, adding that there was also a motion for stay of proceedings in the suit, pending appeal.
The court had consequently, adjourned the case for a report of proceedings at the court of appeal.
The suit was filed by the Federal Government through its Counsel, Prof Fabian Ajogwu, (SAN) in 2016, against some International Oil Companies (IOCs) to recover lost revenues arising from undeclared and under-declared crude oil shipments from Nigeria to different parts of the world.
The Federal Government had also sued Total E&P Nig. Plc, alleging that the oil company under-declared the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.
The case against Total is also adjourned until Feb.13.
The Federal Government accused the oil company of short-changing it to the tune of 245 million dollars, by allegedly shipping several barrels of crude oil out of Nigeria, without making due remittance to the government.
The FG also filed similar suits against Agip Oil Company Ltd, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd, Agip, among others. (NAN)