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.
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.
Court Extends Order Stopping PDP from Removing Anyanwu as National Secretary
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday extended the interim order restraining the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from removing Sen. Samuel Anyanwu as national secretary pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who directed parties to maintain status quo in the suit, adjourned the matter until Dec.
The development occured when counsel for the plaintiff, Moses Onyilokwu, informed the court that though the matter was slated for hearing, lawyer to the 1st to 4th defendants, Mohammed Atolagbe, had just served on them a counter affidavit in response to the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed by them.
Onyilokwu said he would need a short time to respond to the application.
Atolagbe, who admitted serving Onyilokwu with their counter earlier today, said he was also within time to file their substantive response.
Justice Ekwo, who frowned at filing processes late, said if Atolagbe had filed his application in time, the substantive matter would have been taken.
“Now, the matter is not likely to go on today, something I would have penalised you for.
“Now, once party has submitted themselves to court , no action should be taken so that it will not affect the case at hand.
“Therefore, parties are to maintain status quo,” he said.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until Dec.b19, directed hearing notice to be issued to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that was not represented in court.
Reports says that the court had, on Nov. 23, stopped the PDP from removing Anyanwu as national secretary following an ex-parte motion moved by Joshua Musa, SAN, and fixed today for hearing of the motion on notice.
NAN reports that two members of the party, Geoffrey Ihentuge and Apollo’s Godspower, had sued the PDP, Umar Aliyu Damagun (acting National Chairman), and the National Executive Committee (NEC) as 1st to 3rd defendants.
Others are the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 4th to 5th defendants, respectively.
The motion was brought pursuant to Order 26, Rules 2 and 6, and Order 28, Rules 1 and 2 of the FHC (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
The plaintiffs, who sought five reliefs, prayed for an order of interim injunction, restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defendants from carrying out the threat to remove the national secretary (Anyanwu).
This, he said, is a violation of the provisions of Article 47 (1) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
They argued that Anyanwu was duly elected on December 10, 2021, and was entitled to remain in office till December 9, 2025.
They said that an elected national officer of the 1st defendant cannot be arbitrarily removed from office in any manner without his resignation and in breach of the party’s constitution.
They argued that there must be a vote of no confidence as required by Article 47(3) of the party’s constitution proposed or moved at a national convention before a national officer like Anyanwu could be removed from office, among other arguments.
Justice Ekwo granted the prayers after the motion was moved.
NAN reports that Anyanwu was the PDP candidate in the Nov. 11 Imo governorship election, where Sen. Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was re-elected.(NAN)
Court Remands Man, 30, for Allegedly Defiling Teenager
An Ikeja Magistrates’ Court in Lagos on Monday remanded a 30-year-old man, Reuben Temitope, for allegedly defiling a 13-year-old girl.
The Magistrate, Mrs E. Kubeinje, who refused to take the plea of the defendant, ordered that he should be remanded at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre.
Kubeinje directed the Police to send the case file to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice.
She adjourned the case until Jan.16, 2024 pending the receipt of the DPP’s advice.
The Police arraigned Temitope, who resides at Meiran Road, Alagbado area of Lagos State, on a five-count charge of abduction, unlawful sexual intercourse and possession of criminal charm.
The Prosecution Counsel, DSP Kehinde Ajayi, told the court that the defendant and others at large, committed the offence on Nov. 20 at his residence.
“The defendant abducted the minor from Bankole Olanrewaju Street, Off Agas Dalemo at Alakuko area and took her to his house.
“He had in his possession a criminal charm which he used to attack the girl.
“He took her to his house and had unlawful sexual intercourse with her.
“He also threatened and pointed a gun at her in order to forcefully have sexual intercourse with her against her will.
“The case was reported at the Police station and he was arrested,” she said.
Ajayi said the offence committed violated Sections 133 (b), 232, 260, 277 (1a/b) and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Section 260 stipulates life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of sexual intercourse with a girl or woman without her consent.
Section 277(1a/b) stipulates 14 years imprisonment for anyone with intent to deprive any parent of the possession of such child, forcibly or fraudulently takes or entices away or detains the child.(NAN)
Kogi Governorship Tribunal Adjourns Indefinitely Pending Completion of Election Materials Inspection
From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kogi State has adjourned pending the completion of inspection of election materials by the Social Democratic Party.
At the resumed hearing, the SDP said the INEC was cooperating with the inspection of materials as granted by the order of the Tribunal, but sought for more time.
Recall that the Tribunal had ordered INEC to issue certified copies of electoral materials on the November 11 off-cycle election in the state to the SDP within 48 hours.
It also ordered INEC to allow SDP’s forensic experts to examine some electoral materials.
The materials include Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and result sheets for Adavi, Okene, Okehi, Ogori-Magongo, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Kogi and Bassa Local Government Areas.
The tribunal ruled on Saturday in Lokoja that the SDP requested the materials to prove its case in the petition it filed against the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the election.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu gave the order following two ex-parte motions filed on Nov. 19 by the SDP and by its governorship candidate, Alhaji Muritala Yakubu-Ajaka.
Justice Birnin-Kudu at the resumed hearing adjourned pending when the inspection of materials would have been completed.
Lead counsel to the petitioners, Mr John Adele (SAN), had earlier told the court that efforts to obtain certified copies of materials used in the six local government areas from INEC had been fruitful, except for some hitch, leading to delay in meeting with the 48hours.
The SDP and Muritala Yakubu are challenging the victory of APC and its candidate, Alhaji Usman Ododo at the election petition tribunal.
Usman Ododo won the election with 446,237 votes, while his closest rival, Yakubu-Ajaka got 259,052 votes.
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