The Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) and Nigeria-AGIP Exploration Ltd have asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside an order for the forfeiture of the OPL 245.
The chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in an ex parte application on January 26 obtained approval of Justice John Tsoho for interim forfeiture of the oil bloc licence under the EFCC Act.
But SNEPCO’s counsel, Prof Kanyin Ajayi (SAN) and counsel to Nigeria-AGIP Exploration Ltd, Babatunde Fagbohun (SAN) brought separate applications for an order of court striking out the interim forfeiture orders pending the determination of the main suit.
The two senior lawyers asked the court to take both publications together to avoid any delay in the case.
EFCC counsel, Johnson Ojogbane indicated he would be responding to the two applications in one process, adding that he does not intend to delay the civil matter.
In an affidavit, Shell claimed that since it was awarded the Oil Prospecting Licence by the Federal Government in 1998, it has invested millions of dollars prospecting for oil.
It further averred that “no economic value can be derived from OPL 245 without the consent or approval of various agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria including Department of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Customs, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).”
It accused the EFCC of misrepresentation in the ex parte application wherein it claimed that the OPL 245 was fraudulently taken from the Federal Government, maintaining that no criminal charge is pending against company.
The Federal Government on December 20, 2016 filed a nine count criminal charges against former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete and businessman, Abubakar Aliyu over alleged diversion to private companies the sum of $1.1 billion paid into an escrow account from the deal.
Others charged with them are: Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Imperial Union Limited, Novel Properties and Development Limited, Group Construction Limited and Mega Tech Engineering Limited.
The suit has been adjourned to February 27 for hearing.