Davidson Iriekpen

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos Thursday reserved judgment until April 30, in a $55million debt recovery suit filed by the Federal Government of Nigeria against Agip Oil Company Ltd.

The court reserved its judgment, after counsel representing parties had respectively adopted their final addresses in the court.

The suit, filed since 2016 by federal government counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), is one among other suits by the government, seeking to recover almost $12 billion in missing crude oil revenue from some international oil companies.

The defence had closed its case on November 6, 2018, after which the court adjourned for adoption of addresses.

Mr. Ituah Imahnze yesterday appeared for the plaintiff while Mr Hameed Abdulkareem announced appearances for the defendant.

The defence then informed the court that he was prepared to proceed, subject to the regularisation of his reply on points of law, and he sought to withdraw an earlier version of the reply, urging the court to strike it out.

Plaintiff’s counsel (Imahnze) did not oppose the application, and the court consequently granted same.

Moving his final address, defence counsel told the court that his final address is dated December 10, 2018, and filed on same day.

He adopted the arguments contained in his final address as well as his reply on points of law, in urging the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s action in its entirety, and award substantial cost.

On his part, plaintiff counsel (Imahnze) informed the court that his final address was dated December 19, 2018 and said:

“We adopt the arguments contained therein, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought,”

After listening to respective submissions of counsel, Justice Olatoregun reserved Judgment for April 30.

During trial, the plaintiff called one witness and tendered three exhibits before the court, while the defendant also called one witness and tendered 12 exhibits.

Meanwhile, the court has also reserved judgment to April 30, in a similar suit by FG, against Brasoil, after parties had also respectively adopted their final arguments before the court.

The federal government is claiming the sum of $55 million from Agip for missing crude oil revenue.

It accused Agip of under-declaring the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.

The government claimed that Agip short-changed it to the tune of 55million dollars.

It filed the suit, to recover the lost revenues arising from undeclared and under-declared crude oil shipments from Nigeria to different parts of the world.

The plaintiff is therefore, praying the court to compel the oil firm to pay the said sum, with an annual interest rate of 21 per cent

The federal government also sued Total E&P Nig. Plc, alleging that the oil company under-declared the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.

The federal government accused the oil company of short-changing it to the tune of $245 million, by allegedly shipping several barrels of crude oil out of Nigeria, without making due remittance to the government.

Similar suits are also pending against Chevron Nigeria Ltd, Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd among others.