Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been ordered by the Supreme Court to pay BCE Consulting Engineers the sum of $22.6 million as damages over a failed Consultancy Service Contract.
The court, which upheld its earlier judgment, insisted that the apex court cannot be cajoled with the corporation’s counsel application and described it as abuse of justice.
In his judgment on Tuesday, Justice C. C. Nweze, dismissed the counsel’s appeal and awarded costs of N500,000 to be paid personally by counsel to the NNPC.
The NNPC, through its counsel, approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of the July 5, 2019 judgment over an alleged error of facts.
Judicial Review is a procedure provided under the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules for review of extant judgments.
The counsel argued that the court did not hear their preliminary objection and that their cross-appeal was dismissed with hearing.
Backstory: BCE, in its counter-affidavit, requested the court to disregard NNPC’s application but urged it to uphold the award of the N8.1 billion judgment sum because NNPC breached an agreement with it.
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.
On March 7, 2002, the court directed NNPC to pay BCE the sum of 22.6 million dollars in damages for the illegal cancellation of the agreement.
The Court of Appeal directed NNPC to deposit the judgment sum of 22.6 million dollars into court as condition for appeal to 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.
On June 13, 2011, BCE applied to the Supreme Court to set aside the previous judgment in favour of the Corporation.
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.
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.