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NNPC makes fresh move to dismiss Ararume’s N100bn suit



The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), has filed a fresh appeal over the refusal of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to hear and determine an earlier motion it had filed for a stay of proceedings before hearing a substantive suit against it and President Muhammadu Buhari filed by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume following his removal as a Non-Executive Chairman of the corporation.

Ararume had filed a N100 billion suit against Buhari, over his removal which he said was illegal and unlawful, listing Buhari, the NNPCL and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as the first, second and third defendants, respectively.

When the case came up for hearing on January 23, Justice Ekwo directed parties to identify and adopt their processes as their brief of argument in the matter.

However, the NNPCL lead counsel, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi, (SAN), drew the court’s attention to a motion for a stay of proceedings over an earlier proceeding on January 11, where the court had declined to take the NNPC’s motion of preliminary objection to the substantive suit.

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Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed March 28 for judgment after all parties had adopted all their processes as their brief of arguments, but dissatisfied with the process, the NNPCL filed an appeal to challenge the decision, asking Justice Ekwo to withdraw from the case.

One of the grounds of appeal, according to the corporation, was based on the reasoning that the lower court, “erred in law when the judge failed to hear and determine the appellant’s application for stay of proceedings pending appeal, filed on January 20, first before deeming all processes filed in respect of the substantive amended Originating Summons and all other applications in the action as having been adopted and argued, thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice on the appellant”.

The NNPCL further claimed that the trial court “breached its right to a fair hearing without affording it an opportunity to strengthen its defence before proceeding to hear and determine the substantive suit and therefore occasioned a miscarriage of justice on the appellant.”

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