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JUDICIARY

Court Strikes out Suit by Aiteo’s Surveillance Contractors in Bayelsa Oilfield

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From Tayese Mike, Yenagooa

A Bayelsa State High Court on Thursday, struck out 12 suits on alleged breach of contract filed by surveillance contractors engaged at the Nembe Creek oilfields in Bayelsa by Aiteo Eastern Exploration Limited.

The surveillance contractors who are members of the oil firm’s host communities at Opu-Nembe had dragged Aiteo to Nembe High Court presided over by Justice L.

M.
Boufini for alleged breach of contract terms.

According to court records, the 12  suits were separately assigned suit numbers NHC/1/2020 to NHC/12/2020 in a serial order.

The claimants, Mr Nicholas Ebiye and Johnson Theophilus and 10 others filed the suit to seek legal redress over percieved injustice and malicious punishment meted out against the Opu-Nembe Surveillance Contractors by Aiteo.

However, in a ruling on the motion seeking to strike out the case for lack of jurisdiction due to an arbitration clause in the lapsed 2015 contract, Boufini agreed that arbitration should be the primary mechanism for resolving any dispute from the contract.

The judge held that the arbitration clause in the contract does not oust the jurisdiction of the court , but since both parties had agreed to adopt arbitration, he cannot entertain the case at the first instance until the arbitration option is exhausted.

“I have listened carefully to submissions by leanered counsels for both parties and it is clear that what is before me is to determined whether the arbitration clause in the contract entered by both parties can oust the jurisdiction of this court to entertain this suit.

“To resolve this issue, let me start by stating what an Arbitration Clause means. It is a clear and express provision in a contract that defers any dispute first to arbitration before any litigation is commenced.

“It is a principle of law that parties cannot by contract oust the court but any person can covenant that no right of action shall accrue till a third person has decided on any difference that may arise between himself and the other party to the covenant.

“The wording of this clause is key such that if the covenant is framed such that there will be no cause of action until after an arbitration, then the parties must arbitrate before seeking remedy in court.

“In the instant case article 12.1 of the contract states that any dispute arising from this contract that cannot be amicably resolved shall be referred to and finally be resolved by arbitration,” Boufinini said.

He said that in the circumstance, arbitration was a condition precedent to any court action and subsequently struck out the case.

Aiteo, an indegenous firm, acquired the OML 29,from Shell Petroleum Development Company in 2015.

The divestment by Shell transferred its equity and interest in OML 29 and transferred its interest including the 97 kilometer Nembe Creek Trunk Line that transports crude Bonny Export terminal for 1.7 billion dollars to Aiteo.

JUDICIARY

S/Court Judgement: Jigawa Assembly Begins Amendment of Electoral Law

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A bill seeking to repeal the Jigawa State Independent Electoral Commission (JISIEC) Law 2024 and re-enact Law 2012 has passed first and second readings.

This followed a motion moved by the Majority Leader of Jigawa State House of Assembly, Mr Lawan Muhammad (APC-Roni) and seconded by Mr Muhammad Inuwa (APC-Kazaure) at a plenary on Friday.

Muhammmad said the bill seeks to repeal the JISEIC amendment No.

1 Law, No.
7, 2024 to re-enact the provisions of Sections 64 and 65 of the JISEIC Law Cap J19, Laws of Jigawa State 2022 and for related matters.

The Speaker, Mr Haruna Aliyu, who presided over the plenary, asked the majority leader to suspend order 12 and rule 81 for the bill to be read for the second time.

After unanimous approval by the members, Muhammad read the bill for the second time, which was seconded by the speaker.

On the reason for the amendment, the Majority Leader said: “Just of recent, this honorable house amended this law to be in line with the electoral act, 2023. We amended this section in order to domesticate the electoral act.

“So we are now going back to previous bill that we have repealed and suspended. That’s the reason for the suspension of the rule 81. So we are going back to the previous law that we suspended just two months ago.

“This is also because of current order or Supreme Court judgement on local government councils. Therefore I moved this motion so that honorable members be in line with the court judgement to allow us conduct local government election in the next two months.

“I want my colleagues to be supportive to join our colleagues in the 36 states”.

Contributing, members representing Kaugama and Kazaure constituencies, Sani and Muhammad Inuwa, expressed the need for other members to support the amendment in order to have democratically elected officials to run the affairs of the local government councils of the state.

After unanimous approval by the house, the speaker referred the bill to Committee on Local Government and to report back on July 30. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Orders Man to Return 2 Children to His ex-wife in Abuja

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An Upper Area Court in Kubwa, Abuja on Tuesday, ordered Mr Awwal Abubakar to return his two children to his former wife, Aisha Atsu, by July 24.

The judge, Mohammed Wakili, gave the order after Atsu informed the court that Abubakar took the children to Kogi .

Atsu told the court that she got divorced in September, 2023.

She said that while she travelled for the Sallah, she took her children, ages, nine and six to her former husband, Abubakar in Dutse Alhaji, Abuja.

“My former husband took my children to his mother’s in the village in Kogi, outside the court’s jurisdiction.

“I want the court to order him to return the children back to Abuja to enable them write their school examinations.

“I also want the court to direct Abubakar to pay for the upkeep of our children,” she said.

Abubakar, however, told the court that his former wife was not capable in character to raise their children, adding that he had witnesses to prove his claim.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Fixes Sept. 9 for Continuation of Lagos Pastor’s Trial

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Magistrate Antoinette Dirisu of the Ikeja Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, has adjourned until September 9, 2024, for the continuation of trial against a Lagos-based pastor, Jude Ojo, and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

The clergyman was arraigned before the court on three counts of conspiracy, perversion of the course of justice and aiding the escape of the suspects.

The suspects allegedly threatened the life of a traditional ruler, High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye of Otumara community in Lagos.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the last adjourned date on June 10, the Defence Counsel, I. Ilodigo, had appealed for a stall of proceedings due to a consequent pending fundamental rights enforcement procedure filed at the Lagos High Court in which the defendant is an applicant.

“Our application is for stall of proceedings on this matter pending the determination of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure filed at the High Court wherein the defendant in this matter is an applicant,” he pleaded.

Opposing the plea, the Prosecuting counsel, ASP Ben Emuerhi, informed the court that the matter being dealt with is a criminal matter and not fundamental rights violation as the defense counsel portrayed.

“This matter is a criminal proceed and not fundamental rights violation. The matter filed at the High Court is about fundamental rights violation while this matter is a criminal proceeding.

“These are two cases apart. Your Honour, the Learned Justice of the High Court did not make any order fully aware of the proceedings at this magistrate court.

“The second count charge of the trial is a criminal charge of perversion of Justice,”he said.
Ruling on the matter, the Magistrate Judge set down the case for trial on September 9. (NAN)

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