By Innocent Anaba
A Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned till September 12, hearing in the substantive appeal by Chevron USA Inc., and others against Brittania-U Nigeria Limited.
Other appellants in the suit are: BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Mr Hermant Patel and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited.
Chevron, in the appeal, is challenging the judgment of a Lagos Federal High Court, which assumed jurisdiction to entertain a suit on the divestment of Chevron’s interest in Oil Mining Licenses 52, 53 and 55.
When the matter came up, yesterday, counsel to Chevron and BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Ashimiyu Ayodeji, told the court about an application for stay of proceedings filed on May 28, 2014.
He said the appeal had been given a date for hearing when the court directed that all appeals should come up on the same date for hearing.
Also, Mrs. Christiana Unaegbunam, counsel to the 4th respondent, said there was an application dated November 21, 2016 seeking the consolidation of appeals, saying, “We seek to withdraw this application.” The court withdrew the application.
Thereafter, Mrs. Unaegbunam and the lawyer representing Chevron USA Inc., Mr. Abba Etuwewe, told the court of their pending application seeking for extension of time to file their briefs of arguments. While Mrs. Unaegbunam’s application was filed on May 31, 2017, Mr. Etuwewe’s application was filed on May 19, 2017.
The court granted both applications, after it was not opposed.
At the last adjourned date, Brittania-U Nigeria’s counsel, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, told the court about a pending application seeking to dismiss the appellants’ appeal for want of diligent prosecution because of failure to transmit record or file appellants’ brief.
He said the appellants filed a motion for extension of time to compile and transmit records of appeal.
Owonikoko said his client had filed an application to dismiss the appeal because of the appellants’ delay in prosecuting the appeal.
The court awarded N20,000 cost to Brittania-U after Owonikoko withdrew the motion to dismiss the appeal after the appellants counsel said the record of appeal had been compiled and transmitted.
Brittania-U sued the defendants (appellants) over the Oil Mining Leases numbered 52, 53 and 55, sold by Chevron.
It also took the matter to the Supreme Court following the Appeal Court ruling which vacated an order of interlocutory injunction by a High Court restraining Chevron and Seplat from concluding any deal on the oil leases.
Chevron had offered for sale OMLs 52, 53 and 55 and as usual invited bids from interested firms.
The sale of the assets became controversial after Chevron allegedly failed to make a public announcement of a winner, a reserve bidder and unsuccessful bids.
It then allegedly turned its back on the highest bidder, Brittania-U, and began to deal with Seplat behind the scene.
Brittania-U went to court to contest Chevron’s action of not declaring it winner after it posted a $1.67 billion bid for the three assets, an amount later revised to $1.015 billion after both companies’ officials met in Houston, United States.
Seplat was said to have posted a bid of $630 million for the same assets.