By Innocent Anaba

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has adjourned to hear whether a Federal High Court, Lagos, can assume jurisdiction in the suit by Britannia-U Nigeria Limited, praying the lower court to restrain Chevron Nigeria Limited from divesting its interests in Oil Mining Leases, OMLs 52, 53 and 55 to Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited.

At the hearing in the matter, yesterday, the appellate court adjourned the appeal to November 22, 2016, for hearing of the substantive appeal, after it refused an application for stay of proceedings.
The court, however, granted Chevron Nigeria Limited and BNP Paribas Securities Corp., application to file their briefs out of time.

Parties are expected to file their respective briefs of arguments within the time prescribed by the rules of court before the next adjourned date.
Britannia-U Nigeria Limited had, through its lawyers, Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN and Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, sued Chevron Nigeria in 2013 along with four other defendants, Chevron USA Inc, BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Mr. Hermant Petel and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited, before the Federal High Court seeking to restrain them from awarding the interests in OMLs 52, 53 and 55 to Seplat Petroleum.

Trial judge, Justice Yunusa Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Lagos, had adjourned the suit sine die following the avalanche of appeals filed by the defendants.
One of the appeals was decided by the Supreme Court on January 29, 2016, wherein the court agreed with Seplat Petroleum that the Federal High Court erred in extending the lifespan of the ex-parte order of injunction granted upon an ex-parte application by Brittania-U Nigeria Limited.

However, Brittania-U Nigeria Limited’s motion for interlocutory injunction against the defendants is still pending at the Federal High Court, and till date, none of the defendants has filed a defence to the substantive action at the Federal High Court.

The plaintiff (Britannia-U Nigeria Limited) had approached the court seeking for a declaration that the final biding offer of $1,015,000,000.00 for acquisition of 40 percent participating interest of Chevron Nigeria in oil mining leases 52, 53 and 56 has been accepted by the first defendant.

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