Court vacates order restraining FG from withdrawing oil field licenses

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos has vacated the order restraining the Federal Government from withdrawing licenses of 10 Marginal Oil Field operators.

The judge vacated the order Friday while delivering ruling in a motion filed by the Ministry of Petroleum and a Director in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Engineer Auwaul Sarki.

In vacating the restraining order, Justice Aneke agreed with the Ministry of Petroleum and Sarki that they were not properly served with the court’s process by the oil field operators.

“The Marginal Oil Field operators failed to comply with the court’s order which directed then to serve all the processes on the respondents’ addresses. This is contrary to the rules of admissibility,” the judge held.

Justice Aneke further held that the Practice Direction, which the applicants relied on for the service of the processes, ought to complement the court’s rule but cannot supersede it.

The judge consequently set aside the restraining order against the respondents and ordered the proper service of the process on them.

Afterwards, lawyer representing the oil field operators, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) pleaded with the court to direct the respondents’ lawyers to accept the service of the processes on behalf of their clients.

He also urged the court to make an order directing the respondent’s not to tamper with the subject matter in the suit, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Responding, respondents’ lawyer, Dr. Olawoyin (SAN), while agreeing to accept the processes on behalf of his clients, also promised that government will not do anything with the subject matter until the determination of the suit.

Further hearing in the matter has been fixed for July 20.

Justice Aneke had on June 3, restrained the Federal Government through the Ministry of Petroleum, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Engineer Auwalu Sarki, from withdrawing the licenses of the oil field operators.

On that day, the judge also ordered the oil field operators to ensure that the motion on notice is personally served on the respondents.

The operators, however, failed to comply with the order as they told the judge that they were served on the respondents through their official e-mail addresses.




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