The order of the Federal High Court which granted Federal Government interim ownership of the disputed Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245, has been challenged by two multinational oil giants, Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Company Ltd and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.
An Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice John Tsoho, had on January 26 issued the interim order following a motion filed by the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
However, Shell and Agip apparently not comfortable with the ruling, on Tuesday moved to vacate the court order.
In separate motions the two multinational oil giants filed before the court presided over by Justice Tsoho, they challenged the jurisdiction of the high court to issue the interim forfeiture order against them in respect of OPL 245.
They further questioned the legality of the ex-parte order which mandated the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to temporarily manage the oil block for the Federal Government, until when investigation and prosecution of those involved in the alleged $1.2 billion Malabu oil block fraud are concluded.
Shell and Agip apart from praying the court to set the forfeiture order aside, discharge or vacate it, also demanded that the court should stay execution of the injunction or suspend the effect of the interim order until investigation and prosecution of the applicants over the alleged oil bloc fraud is concluded.
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Moreso, the two oil companies want the court to strike out the substantive suit by the anti-graft agency, their argument being that the institution of the case by EFCC chairman, in itself is a gross abuse of the judicial process and abuse of power.
According to them, the process the EFCC employed to get the interim forfeiture order was “unconstitutional and unlawful.”
The matter was, however, adjourned till February 26 by Justice Tsoho, to allow counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Johnson Ojogbane, respond to the motions by Shell and Agip.
Prof. Olaniwun Ajayi (SAN) and Mr. Babatunde Fapohunda, counsel to Shell and Agip respectively, asked the court to ensure accelerated hearing of the case.
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