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Appeal over court’s jurisdiction adjourned

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Justice Walter Onnoghen


The Court of Appeal, Lagos has adjourned to July 11, 2018 to hear the appeal challenging the powers of the federal high court to adjudicate over alleged breach of contract between a Canadian company dealing in Nigerian oil and its local counterpart. The appellants in the suit are James Bay Resources Limited, James Bay Energy Nigeria Limited, Mr. Stephen Shefsky, Crestar Integrated Natural Resources Limited and Mr. Adeniyi Olaniyan.

The respondents are Mak Mera Nigeria Limited, Mr. Adewale Olorunsola, Chief Michael Andrew Olorunfemi, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, the director, Department of Petroleum Resources, the minister of Petroleum Resources and Corporate Affairs Commission.

The 1st to 3rd respondents had commenced the action at the Federal High Court, Lagos, September 16, 2014 seeking for a declaration that the contract between them and Mak Mera as contained in their agreements of March 9, 2011 and February 1, 2012 is subsisting, same having been substantially performed by the plaintiff.

They asked the court to declare that the various actions of Mak Mera in terminating or treating the contract between them as terminated amounts to breach of contracts and that the registration of the 4th defendant and the real composition of the 4th defendant upon lifting of its veil of incorporation is clearly an abuse and violation of the provisions of the Nigeria oil and gas industry content development act, CAP N1244A, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  
They also want an order for damages against the 4th and 5th defendants jointly and severally in the sum of $20million for their act of unlawful interference into or inducement of the breach of the contract between the plaintiffs and the 1st defendant.

The defendants/appellants challenged the jurisdiction of the court, arguing that the cause of action arose in Ontario, Canada and therefore should be heard there.However, Justice Ibrahim Buba on February 24, 2015 disagreed with the defendants/appellants and affirmed that Nigerian courts have jurisdiction to hear the matter, since the oil wells are located in Nigeria. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the defendant appealed to the appeal court, urging the court to upturn Justice Buba’s decision.The appeal would now be heard on July 11.


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