The oil rich states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa may sue the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for contempt of court, following its refusal to implement the October 17 Supreme Court judgment.In 1993, the then military Federal Government had entered into a contract with oil companies to explore oil and gas in the deep offshore and inland basins of Nigeria’s territory. It was agreed that if at any point the price of crude oil exceeds $20 per barrel, both parties would sit down and renegotiate the sharing formula as contained in the law. Then, oil was selling at about $9 per barrel.
And though oil price has since gone far above $20, there has been no review. So, in 2016, the three states took the FG to court through the Attorney General of the Federation, challenging the non-implementation of the contract agreement and won.
All parties involved agreed amicably on mode of settlement, but sources close to The Guardian said: “the implementation of that Supreme Court judgment is being continually frustrated by NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum. The NNPC has been very reluctant to release data as to the production of oil over the period under consideration, and the quantity of export and quantum of money realised from proceeds of oil within the period under consideration.”
It was further gathered that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru wrote a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation and that of the three states, giving the impression that the nation, against the Supreme Court’s judgment had no right of claim against the oil companies as it relates to claims the Supreme Court had given judgment to. It said since the nation did not take advantage of the right as that time; it had lost the right to ask.
Reacting to NNPC’s refusal to comply with the judgment, the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, on behalf his colleagues in Rivers and Bayelsa said: “we may have to urge the Attorney General of the Federation to charge NNPC for contempt. This is directly an affront to the Supreme Court’s order as contained in the final judgment…
“The Group Managing Director of NNPC cannot claim to know better than the Supreme Court of Nigeria, or the Attorney General of the Federation, who has written severally to him and has also written to the Office of the Minister of State for Petroleum, asking for Information that will enable technical committee set up to work on the implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgment. NNPC’s decision to withhold this vital information and data from the technical committee is a direct act of sabotage against national interest…”