Malabu Oil Deal – Court Grants Heda Judicial Review Against AGF

A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted the request of a non-governmental organisation, Human and Environment Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, for a leave for a mandamus for a judicial review against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami in the case of the Malabu Oil and Gas deal.

HEDA had on April 5, 2018, filed a motion ex-parte before the Federal High Court, seeking an order compelling the AGF to revoke the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 on the grounds that the entire Malabu transaction in relation to the OPL 245 is unconstitutional, illegal and void as it was not legally granted, same having been obtained fraudulently vide corrupt practices.

The application by the Resource Centre is pursuant to: Order 34 Rules 1(1)A, 2, 3(1) & (2)a, (b) and (c) Of The Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009 Section 1(1), (2), 2 (7), (3), (4)A & 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, and Section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and under the inherent powers of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

In a report of the ruling of the court issued by HEDA and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the NGO said it instituted the law suit to expose the players in the Malabu scandal in which extant local laws and policies were breached and blatantly ignored.

The NGO said having confirmed that from the response of the Minister of Petroleum Resources that the government is still having some dealings with the said Eni/Shell and also making arrangements to go into a joint venture with it, “The applicant (Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre) responded and reiterated the need to halt and suspend all thorough-going relationships with the said Eni/Shell pending the outcome of the investigations and suits in several jurisdictions with respect to the Malabu deal.”

According to HEDA, Justice M.S Hassan of the Federal High Court, in Lagos on June 13, 2018 granted the leave for the applicant as Mr. R.A.O Adegoke who also appeared with Mrs. Fatima Usman, representing the Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre.

“Before granting the motion to file an application for judicial review as prayed in the motion ex-parte moved by the applicant’s the presence of new interested parties in the case were announced in court. These parties included Mr. Babatunde Fagbohun (SAN) and two others who announced their appearance for Nigeria AGIP Exploration Limited as an interested party and Dr. C.O Ukata, appearing with Ehimony Oluyori representing Shell Exploration Production as an intervening party.”

According to Suraju, the application is made with a view to enabling HEDA carry out its mandate of fighting corrupt and fraudulent practices involving public institutions, public office holders and their conspiring multinational corporations.

He said this action was part of the organisation’s broad stolen asset recovery project.

“The two interested parties representing Shell Exploration Production Ltd and Nigeria-AGIP Exploration Ltd respectively announced appearance in court and promised to file necessary process before next adjourned date. “The applicant’s counsel, Adegoke having confirmed service on the respondents; the AGF, moved a motion ex-parte seeking the leave of the court to file for judicial review in the form of a mandamus against the respondent.

The applicant has filed the instant ex-parte motion application seeking the following reliefs:

An order of the court granting leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review in order to seek an order of mandamus directing and or compelling the respondent to revoke the OPL 245 on grounds that the entire Malabu transaction in relation to the OPL 245 was unconstitutional, illegal and void as it was not legally granted, same having been obtained fraudulently vide corrupt practices.”

Just like at the first hearing of the matter, the AGF listed as respondent in the suit was not present or represented in court at this hearing.

“According to papers filed by the organisation, the respondent refused, neglected and or failed to grant the applicant’s request and as such has blatantly continued engaging the said Eni/Shell, thus projecting an image contrary to the anti-corruption policy of the government.

“The application was granted by the court and the case was adjourned to October 4, 2018 for hearing of the applications for joinder by interested parties; in the interest of fair hearing, especially concerning the new interested parties.”

Speaking immediately after the hearing, counsel to the organisation said, HEDA reserves the right to continue to be the voice of the voiceless in the society, and will go to great lengths to ensure that the basic human rights of a people are always protected. Since this case is a public one; on the basis of the provisions of Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered).

He further promised that, “On this issue, HEDA will continue to keep members of the general public as well as the media abreast of development on the case.

“This law suit was instituted to expose the players in the notorious Malabu scandal in which extant local laws and policies were breached and blatantly ignored. HEDA shall continue to use the law to retrieve national assets from unscrupulous persons and corporations; on the just reason that the said subject matter is of utmost national concern and particularly of great interest to the applicant, the civil society, the oil producing communities and Nigerians in general,” the centre said.

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