ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, on Thursday 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 the licensing of marginal oilfields located in their domains.
However, following some setbacks and delays suffered by the suit, the bid winners were announced on June 1, 2021.
The court order sighted on Thursday in Yenagoa indicated that presiding Justice Isa Dashen granted the injunction order in favour of the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs in the suit No. PHC/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.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources are defendants in the suit.
The reliefs sought and granted by the court in favour of the plaintiffs 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.”
Recall that Justice Dashen inherited the case from Justice Abimbola Awogboro following her transfer to the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
The case has been fixed for June 8, 2022 for continuation of hearing and ruling on pending motions before the court.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Ijaw groups in a reaction to the development in a statement issued on Thursday, urged the parties in the suit to obey and comply with the order of the court.
The groups noted: “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 organisations abide by this ruling.”
The statement was 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 are Tari Ekpebu, President, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Lagos; Ms. Annkio Briggs , BOT Chairperson, Ijaw Women Connect (IWC).