By Michael EBOH
THE Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has assured that the Nigerian judiciary would make the necessary contributions towards ensuring stability and speedy resolution of conflicts in the country’s oil and gas industry.
Speaking in Abuja, at a two-day workshop for the Nigerian judiciary on oil and gas laws and regulations, Muhammed stated that the judiciary would achieve stability in the petroleum industry by ensuring quick and fair adjudication of disputes in line with laws governing the sector. The workshop was organized by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute, NJI. Muhammad, who was represented by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, therefore, advised judicial officers on the need to understand the complexities of the petroleum industry and the critical role the industry plays in the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
He also advocated the need for judges to encourage parties in cases in the oil and gas sector to embrace alternative dispute resolution in resolving issues in the sector. He stated that judicial officers must be wary of the fact that the bulk of the country’s revenue comes from the petroleum industry and should, therefore, take steps to sustain the confidence of investors in the sector. The acting chief justice noted that the impact of the oil and gas sector on the development of Nigeria’s economy was overwhelming, adding that it was important that judges and justices are proficiently skilled enough to adjudicate on disputes arising from operations in the industries.
Also speaking, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, emphasized the need for constant training of judicial officers on oil and gas matters for effective adjudication and development of the industry. Kachikwu, who was represented by Mr. Mohammed Saidu, Director, Legal, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, added that there was the need to carry along judiciary officers along in the oil and gas sector complexity, constant changes and new development. He said, “The oil and gas sector has developed with full participation of the indigenous company and government has continued to ensure the local content policy is upheld. “There is need for constant training for judicial officers to help bridge some Lacuna in administering justice as it relates to issues on oil and gas sector.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Dr. Bello Gusau said the workshop would provide an opportunity for participants to discuss broadly the major evolving aspects of the Nigerian petroleum industry including an overview of the oil and gas law.
He added that the workshop would also look at the prospects of the midstream and downstream operations of the petroleum industry and overview of the domestic gas utilisation in Nigeria.
Speaking in the same vein, The Administrator, National Judicial Institute, NJI, Justice Roseline Bozimo, said the focal point of the judiciary was to ensure justice, noting also that educating the judiciary on oil and gas issues was very commendable. She added that the 2017 workshop helped to educate some of the officers adding that they look towards the current workshop with high expectations. She assured of strong collaboration between the NJI with the PTDF for effective development of the country.