The Supreme Court yesterday ordered all parties to maintain the status quo with respect to the action brought by Britannia-U Nigeria Limited in its bid to stop Chevron from selling oil mining assets OML52, 53 and 55 to Seplat Petroleum Development Company, pending the determination of the appeal which has now been set down for October 6, 2015.
The appeal filed by Brittania-U arose from the ruling of an Appeal Court, which vacated an order of interim injunction by the Federal High Court in Lagos, restraining Chevron and Seplat from concluding any deal on the leases. When the matter came up yesterday, a five-man panel with Justice Tanko Muhammad presiding ordered thus:
“Parties in the matter are ordered to maintain status quo. No party is allowed to take any step that will affect the res (subject matter) of the appeal.”
The apex court reached the decision to issue the order for maintenance of status quo following its refusal to take an application by Rickey Tarfa (SAN) to argue the appellant’s application for mandatory injunction seeking to reverse the ministerial consent given for the transaction and the steps taken by Chevron to sell the disputed oil block to Seplat. Tarfa had reminded the court that at the last hearing of the case on March 24, 2015, the court fixed yesterday, May 18, 2015 to hear argument on the said application for mandatory injunction.
However, Seplat’s counsel, Mr. Damian Dodo (SAN), informed the court that prior to the last adjourned date, the matter had been set down for the substantive appeal to be heard, and that the appeal is ripe for hearing being that all the parties had filed their briefs of argument. He prayed that energy be committed to arguing the main appeal and not an interlocutory motion. Counsel to Chevron Nigeria and BNP Paribas Securities Corp, Mr. Uche Nwokedi (SAN), agreed with Dodo that the appeal was ripe for hearing.