Chevron, others have a case to answer over $12.7bn undeclared crude

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 federal government against notable international oil companies (IOCs) such as Brasoil, Agip, Total, among others, seeking 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 federal government 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 on the front burner of national discourse in recent times.

Industry watchers believe that the suits may not be unconnected to President Buhari’s position from the outset of his government that a lot of the oil theft under his predecessor’s administration went on with the collusion of international oil tankers that lift 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 Federal Government of Nigeria.

Close sources from the government revealed that 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. At the official exchange rate of N280.00 to USD1, the said amount would be worth over N4trillion.

Lawyer representing the federal government was unwilling to speak with our correspondent saying the matter was “sub judice”.

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