By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — Sequel to a resolution of the House of Representatives on February 18, 2014, which directed the immediate cancellation of alleged fraudulent sale of a lucrative oil bloc, marked OPL 245, to two oil companies, Shell and Agip, a firm fingered in the deal, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, yesterday, took the matter to court.
The plaintiff, which is a company owned by Mohammed Abacha, son of former military dictator, Sani Abacha, and operated by a convicted erstwhile Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete, was said to have pocketed the sum of $1.1 billion (about N165 billion) from the said illicit transaction.
An ad-hoc committee of the House of Reps, which recently probed the transaction, aside recommending its outright cancellation, also okayed the drafting of a new agreement and the prosecution of all the government officials that facilitated the deal.
However, dissatisfied with the decision, the company, in the matter it filed before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday, prayed the court to determine “whether having regard to the provisions of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, with respect to the investigative powers of the House of Representatives, same can over-ride the provisions of section 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
It also prayed the court to determine “whether the House of Representatives can by virtue of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, exercise judicial powers which are the exclusive prerogative of the judiciary, pursuant to the provisions of sections 6 and 251 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
“Whether the decision and/or resolution of the House of Reps of Tuesday, February 18, 2014, interpreting or purporting to interpret the specific agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, SNEPCO, and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, NAE, dated April 19, 2011 with respect to various obligations of the parties to the agreements is not a violation of section 6 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, and therefore unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, null and void and of no effect.
“Whether the House of Reps and/or its ad-hoc committee (on transaction involving the Federal Government and Shell/Agip Companies and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of Oil Block OPL 245) not being a court established by section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, or a court of law within the provisions of section 251(1)(e) of the constitution, can exercise judicial powers of resolving disputes or any dispute between the Directors and/or shareholders of the plaintiff company.
“Whether the House of Reps decision and/or resolution of Tuesday, February 18, 2014, determining and/or purporting to determine the ownership dispute of the plaintiff’s company, a company duly incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, is not a piece of legislative judgment contrary to the provisions of section 4, 5, 6 and 251(1) (e) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, and therefore unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, null and void and of no effect.
Aside the House of Reps, other defendants in the suit are the Speaker of the House of Reps, the Clerk, and Leo Ogor (for himself and on behalf of other members of the ad-hoc committee
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice was also joined as the 5th defendant in the matter.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the case till July 8, following acontention by two lawyers over who was duly briefed by the company to handle the litigation on its behalf.