Marginal fields licensing: Ijaws frown at FG’s disregard of court order

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The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has criticised the Federal Government for defying a court order which restrained it from issuing Oil Prospecting Licences (OPL) pending the determination of a suit instituted by some Ijaw leaders.

The Federal High Court in Yenagoa presided over by Justice Isa Dashen had granted an order halting the licensing round in the Niger Delta.

However, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) on June 26 presented licences to 161 successful bidders.

INC President Benjamin Okaba, in a statement issued on Thursday, said that injustice and habitual disregard for court orders and the rule of law by the Federal Government had reinforced the urgent need for the restructuring of the country.

He urged the government to nullify the entire exercise and cancel the licensing round as the subsisting court order had not been vacated.

“The Federal Government was fully aware of the valid injunction given by the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, restraining it from advertising or receiving bids in respect of the marginal oilfields which are a subject of litigation in suit No. FHC/YEN/ CS/81/2020 filed before the court by some Ijaw patriots.

“The court, in its order issued on April 5, 2022, effectively restrained the Federal Government from giving out or approving licences in respect of the marginal oilfields under litigation in which the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources was duly represented in  court.

“The INC would like to place on record that the court gave the restraining order 82 clear days before the Federal Government carried out the shameful bazaar in Abuja on June 26, 2022,“ Okaba said in the statement.

He said the INC viewed the exercise as a total violation and breach of the court order.

He said the Federal Government’s disrespect of court orders and the rule of law was totally unacceptable.

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“It is a clear sign that Nigeria urgently needs restructuring because the appalling behaviour of the Federal Government has continued to accelerate institutional decay and imposed despondency on the people.

“Nigeria cannot continue to operate a faulty foundation and a behemoth federal system with an amorphous government at the centre that tramples on the rule of law and spits on court orders and judgments. This is not and cannot be a desirable trajectory for any sane society.

“We insist that the oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta people cannot continue to be shared in Abuja while our oil-producing communities suffer monumental and unmitigated environmental pollution with its attendant health hazards generated by the oil exploration and exploitation in our backyards,“ the INC president said.

He said that the Ijaws  recourse to legal means of seeking  justice, equity and fairness in the distribution of their God-given oil and gas resources should not be discouraged and frustrated by the Federal Government through might and  disobedience of court orders.

He urged that the Ijaws should not be made to to device unconventional avenues to pursue the cause of justice.

 

(NAN)