Firms file contempt action against NNPC MD, ED over alleged disobedience of court order
A local exploration and production company, Neconde Energy Limited, and a Nigerian oilfield services solutions company, Jones Creek Hydrocarbon, have initiated a contempt proceeding against the Managing Director, NNPC Exploration and Production Limited,
Zaffah, over alleged disobedience of the interim orders of court made on March 29, 2023.
Other contemnors are, the Executive Director, Production and Asset Management NNPC Exploration and Production Limited, Mustapha M. Yusufu and the Asset Manager OML 42 —NNPC E & P Limited, Zimako U. Ibe.
The applicants in their application were brought pursuant to section 72 of the Sheriffs and civil process Act CAP. S6 LFN 2004, filed by their counsel, Uche Val Obi (SAN) stated that the alleged contemnors flouted a subsisting court order made by Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The order restrained them from changing, altering or replacing the crude oil evacuation arrangement in place for OML 42 crude oil through pipelines from the asset to Keremor Manifold and vessel barging operation to Ugocha export terminal by diverting or rechanneling the crude oil to Transforcados Fxport Terminal through the Transforcados pipelines or any other means, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed in suit number no: FHCL/CS/550 2023.
In their notice for committal proceedings, the applicants prayed the Court for an order of committal to prison of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd contemnors/respondents having flouted, neglected and/or disobeyed the interim orders of the court made on March 29, 2023.
The court also restrained the defendant/respondent, whether acting by itself or through its servants, employees, officers, agents, privies, affiliates, subsidiaries, or any other person, howsoever described, from acting contrary to the terms enshrined in the binding Master Service Agreement (MSA) executed by it in favour of the 2 & 4 applicant granting the sole right to handle and evacuate the entire crude oil produced at OML 42 through Ugocha Export Terminal for a period of 15 years, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or interlocutory injunction filed in the instant suit.
In an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Olukayode Shobowale, a litigation executive in Alliance Law Firm, he stated that on March 29, 2023, the court granted interim preservatory orders against the defendant/respondent, including its officers, employees, servants, members, agents, assigns, privies, affiliates or any their person(s) howsoever described pending the determination of the pending motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed in the suit.
He stated: “On March 30, 2023, at about 2.15pm, the certified true copies of the enrolled orders of the court together with the plaintiffs/applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, writ of summons, statement of claim and other originating processes in the suit were served by the bailiff of the court, on the defendants through its branch office located at 9th Floor, Foreshore Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.”
He said that his principal, Mr. Obi (SAN) as additional precaution and warning against violation of the court orders, forwarded the aforesaid court order to the official email addresses of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd contemnors/respondents amongst other persons.
He averred that despite the aforesaid service of the aforesaid orders, the 1st defendant, acting through the 1st – 3rd defendants convened a meeting at about 5pm on that same date presided over by the 2nd and 3rd contemnor, which was attended by its staff and workers of OML 42 concession and announced that the planned and threatened switch and diversion of OML 42 crude oil to Trans-forcados.
“In defiance of orders of this court, the contemnors instructed its personnel, workmen drawn largely from the contractor, Pipeline Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, to continue with works at the Keremor manifold with a view to concluding it expeditiously and achieved its planned switch and diversion of OML 42 Crude oil over the weekend so that it could claim that the injuncted acts had been already concluded and thus undermine the orders and foist a faith accompli on the court and render its orders impotent and academic,” he swore.