Court fixes June 14 for Arco suit against Agip, others

Nigerian Agip Oil Company

Nigerian Agip Oil Company

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has fixed June 14, 2016, for the hearing of the suit filed by Arco Group Plc against Agip and others over alleged refusal to comply with the provision of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010.

Arco Group, an indigenous oil service company had instituted the suit against Agip, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Conoco Philips Petroleum Nigeria Limited, and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services.

The plaintiff alleged that defendants refusal to comply with the provisions of Section 3 Sub-Section 2 and 3 of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD Act, 2010 is illegal.

The plaintiff is therefore, praying for an order to determine whether under the Nigeria Content Act, Agip was under obligation to award maintenance contract of OB/OB, Ebocha and Kwale gas plants to it or not.

The plaintiff averred that having successfully maintained the OB/OB, Ebocha and Kwale gas facilities for many years, it had the prescribed equipment, machines and skilled manpower to execute the contract and further prayed the court to grant it several other declarative and injunctive reliefs.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the presiding Judge, Justice Muhammed Liman said he was new in the matter, hence he should be allowed to familiarise himself with all the files and details of the case.

He however, fixed June 14,2016 for hearing of arguments on originating summons, contempt of court and preliminary objections canvassed by parties before the court.

He also order that the third defendant be served with hearing notice as he observed that they were not represented in court. He also suggested to counsels in the suit that to save time, the court should take arguments on originating summons, contempt of court and preliminary proceedings on the matter on the same day which they all conceded to.

Earlier, the plaintiff lead counsel, Mr Akpomudje Albert (SAN) told the court that they had commenced contempt proceedings against the defendants for allegedly disobeyed  two orders of the court.

He argued that the court should first dispose of the contempt proceedings before entertaining any other matter relating to the suit.

“There was an order  to maintain the status quo. We have complained to the court that the orders were being flaunted. We have commenced contempt proceedings. We are talking of two orders of courts. No appeal against them by the defendants. Our submissions is that His lordship should take the contempt proceedings first before we go to the other issues.”, he had pleaded.

However, lead counsel to Agip, Mr Joseph Thompson Okpoko (SAN)  said the case came to the court by way of originating summons,  adding that it was their argument that the court had no jurisdiction over the case.

He said both parties later filed written addresses. He  further queried the form of status quo the court said parties should maintain.

“But what is this status quo in this case. The claim before the court is the one we say that the  court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter. “, he said.

Justice Liman therefore, advised all parties to put their house in order to appear for hearing of arguments on originating summons,  contempt and preliminary proceedings.

“I will take everything the same time.”, he said.

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