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OPL 212: NNPC begs Supreme Court to review N8.14 billion judgement

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THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is asking the Supreme Court to review a $22,630,000 (N8, 146, 800,000) damages decision against the corporation according to a report.

The apex court, slated Tuesday for hearing on the matter between BCE Consulting Engineers and NNPC after the court ordered the NNPC to pay the sum in question to the engineering firm over a failed Consultancy Service Contract.

The contract was sealed on May 20, 1999, with respect to SNEPCO Bonga Field Development Project in Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 212.

The Federal Government and NNPC are seeking the review of the July 5, 2019 judgment by a panel, headed by Justice Mary Odili, over the alleged error of facts.

The NNPC claims there was no bid process for the contract and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPIMS, were compelled to award it.

They also alleged that the contract was hurriedly awarded to BCE nine days before ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office which the Supreme Court did not take into account.

BCE is also urging the court to uphold the award of the $22.6 million judgment sum because NNPC breached an agreement with it.

It insists that the contract was legitimately awarded and it asked the Supreme Court to enforce its judgment of July 5, 2019, by ordering the release of the $22.6 million to the engineering firm.

According to a document referred to in the report, it stated the genesis to the suit.

“In July 1999, BCE filed an action at the Federal High Court, Lagos in Suit No. FHC/L/C/I316/2000 against NNPC following the Corporation’s termination of the contract at the directive of the Federal Government.

“BCE claimed certain reliefs including the sum of US$807,894.60 being the alleged value of outstanding invoices submitted to NNPC on various dates between June and October 1999,” the document hinted.

BCE claimed US$28,139,965.50 or its Naira equivalent as special  damages for illegal cancellation of the Consultancy Services Agreement.

On March 7, 2002, the Court directed NNPC to pay BCE the sum of US$22,630,000 as damages for the illegal cancellation of the Agreement.

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After BCE filed an appeal, the Court of Appeal directed NNPC to deposit the Judgment sum of $22.6 million into court as a condition for appeal which NNPC complied.

On June 9, 2011, the Court upheld NNPC’s appeal on grounds that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction over disputes arising from simple contracts.

“At a settlement meeting convened by the HAGF in 2016, NNPC offered BCE the sum of US$1 million in full and final settlement of their claims which BCE rejected,” it says.

On April 10, 2019, BCE and NNPC (through their respective Counsel) appeared before the Supreme Court to argue their case.

But on Friday, July 5, 2019, the Supreme Court upheld the judgment Sum of US$22,830,000 against NNPC. The Contingent Liability associated with this case is the sum of US$22,630,000 which NNPC had deposited in the custody of the Court as a condition for the appeal.

In another memo, NNPC explains why it opted for a review of the judgment by the apex court.

Stating a piece of legal advice by its counsel alleged that there was a substantial miscarriage of justice.

The memo seeks to update the Secretary to the Corporation/ Legal Adviser on developments in the above matter especially regarding  BCE’s challenge of NNPC’s application for Judicial Review, their application for an order directing  UBA Plc to release the judgment sum as well as NNPC counsel’s  continuing effort to secure an early date for hearing all the applications including the corporation’s  application for Judicial Review before the Supreme Court.

Upon the delivery of the judgment of the Supreme Court dated July 5, 2019, NNPC alongside its counsel, Babalakin and Co reviewed same and had good reason to believe that substantial miscarriage of justice had been done by the terms of the said judgment.

Accordingly, NNPC (through its counsel) applied for Judicial Review, which is a procedure provided under the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules for review of extant judgments.

Also, the corporation submitted an independent request, addressed to the Chief Justice of the Federation, seeking intervention to facilitate timely action.

“We confirm that sequel to the above application for Judicial Review of the Supreme Court judgment, BCE had filed a counter-affidavit dated October 10, 2019, in which it requested the court to disregard NNPC’s application.

“Additionally, BCE sought the order of the court in directing UBA Plc, the fundholder, to  release the entire judgment sum of $22, 630,000 which NNPC deposited in an interest yielding account in favour  of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the  Court of Appeal in 2008, as condition for appeal, to them,” the memo reads.

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