Court sitting in Yenagoa has restrained the Federal Government from issuing licences for marginal oilfields in the Niger Delta pending determination of a pending suit. Some Ijaw leaders had in 2020 approached the court seeking to halt licensing of marginal oilfields located in their domains. But following setbacks and delays suffered by the suit, the bid winners were announced on June 1, 2021. According to the court order, in Yenagoa, the presiding Judge, Justice Isa Dashen granted the injunction order in favour of the plaintiffs.
The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/YEN/CS/81/2020 are Chief Brown Agu (Opu Agu VIII), Mrs Rosemary John-Oduone, President Ijaw Women Connect and Mr Femowei Friend on behalf of themselves and the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality. Listed in the suit as defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. The reliefs sought and granted by the court are: “That the respondents be restrained from further advertising and receiving bids in respect of the marginal fields.
“The defendants are also restrained from approving licences in respect of the marginal fields.” The case was inherited by Justice Dashen from Justice Abimbola Awogboro following her transfer to the Lagos division of the Federal High Court. The matter has been adjourned till June 8 for continuation of hearing and ruling on pending motions. Meantime, a coalition of Ijaw groups in a statement while reacting to the development Thursday in Yenagoa, urged the parties in the suit to obey and comply with the order of court.
The Ijaw groups said “It has come to the attention of this coalition of Ijaw interest groups that following a suit filed by some patriotic Ijaw sons and daughter, the Federal High Court has granted an injunction restraining the Minister of Petroleum/Federal Government from proceeding any further with the award of marginal oil field licences pending the conclusion of the lawsuit. It is our expectation that all citizens and corporate organizations abide by this ruling.” The statement was jointly signed by Efiye Bribena, Secretary, Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Lagos, Ben Okoro, Moderator, Ijaw Nation Forum (INF), Chief Amagbe D. Kentebe, BOT Chairman, Embasara Foundation, Hon. Iniruo Wills, President, Homeland Chapter Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA). Others include Tari Ekpebu President, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Lagos, Ms. Annkio Briggs , BOT, Ijaw Women Connect (IWC).