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Oil theft, Chevron Court rules in Nigeria's favour, says oil firm has case to answer

In its ruling, the court agreed with the FG and held that the State had a reasonable cause of action against Chevron

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Attempts by oil giant, Chevron, to frustrate the Federal Government’s effort in recovering stolen oil revenues from notable International Oil Companies, have met a brick wall in a court of law.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today, September 30, 2016 struck out the preliminary objection filed by Chevron Nigeria Limited seeking to have the suit by the Federal Government of Nigeria stopped.

The Legal team of Chevron Nigeria Limited led by Mrs Mianaya Aja Essien, SAN and Babatunde Fagboluhun, SAN had filed a preliminary objection dated March 29, 2016, against the lawsuits filed by the Nigerian State against notable international oil companies (IOCs) such as Brasoil, Agip, Total, among others.

The objection prayed for an order of the court to strike out the suit filed by the government on the grounds that it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action against chevron.

In opposition to the objection, the federal government, through its legal team led by Professor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), filed a counter-affidavit praying the court to discountenance the prayers of Chevron and hold that there exists a right and a reasonable cause of action against the defendant.

The court in its ruling agreed with the arguments of counsel to the Federal Government and held that the State had a reasonable cause of action against Chevron Nigeria Limited.

It would be recalled that the issue of recovery of stolen crude revenue resulting from under-declaration and non-declaration has been at the front burner of national discourse in recent times.

Industry watchers believe that the suits may not be unconnected with President Buhari’s position from the outset of his administration that a lot of the oil theft under his predecessor’s administration was perpetrated in cahoots with international oil tankers who often lifted Nigeria’s crude on behalf of the IOCs and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

"In the suit, it was discovered that the crude oil declared in the United States of America to have been exported from Nigeria, were neither declared nor inspected by the relevant authorities in Nigeria's bureaucracy”, the ruling read.

The missing revenue accrued to Nigeria from the illegal shipments by some IOCs made between 2011 and 2014 to buyers in the USA alone, is worth a total of $12.7billion, government sources say.

At the current official exchange rate of NGN280.00 to USD1, the said amount will be worth over N4trillion.

Efforts by Pulse correspondent who was in court to get the view of the lawyer representing the Federal Government, proved abortive as he was unwilling to grant interviews because it would amount to “Sub Judice”.

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