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Court fines Ondo State government over Ororo oil field suit

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A federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday, fined the Ondo State government, following its failed bid to join a suit challenging Federal Government’s revocation of the Ororo Marginal Oil Field licence.

The court fined the applicant (Ondo) N100,000 in favour of Owena Oil and Gas Limited and another N100,000 jointly for the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

Following the revocation of the licence in April, Ondo State filed an application seeking to join in the suit FHC/L/CS/587/2020 filed by Owena. The Minister of Petroleum Resources, DPR and Guarantee Petroleum Company Ltd are first to third respondents in the suit.

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When the application was heard in October, Ororo Oil Field counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), who led Mr. Bisi Makanjuola, contended that the case challenging the licence revocation “is totally different” from a shareholders’ case. He prayed the court to dismiss the state’s application.

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Muslim Hassan upheld Pinheiro’s argument and dismissed the application.The judge held that the state’s action was unnecessary because only a company that has suffered injury can bring an action to seek redress and not its shareholders.

Hassan said: “I have listened to the parties, read all the processes and affidavit in support of the application to be joined. I hold that only a company who suffers wrongdoing can institute an action to redress such act.

“I therefore hold that the motion for joinder brought by Ondo State government is unmeritorious, which ought to be dismissed.

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“Consequently, this application is hereby dismissed.” Following the ruling, Makanjuola, as well as DPR counsel, Mr. A.S. Ameri, prayed the court for N500,000 costs against Ondo State government.

While agreeing with their contention, Justice Hassan awarded N100,000 for each of them and adjourned further proceedings till January 14, 2020.

In May 27, Justice Hassan restrained the Minister of Petroleum Resources and DPR from revoking the Ororo Marginal Field in OML 95 pending the determination of the substantive suit.

He granted an order of interim injunction against the respondents following Owena’s May 19 motion ex-parte. Hassan ordered the parties to maintain status quo in relation to the revocation pending the determination of the motion on notice.

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