Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited has withdrawn the suit it filed against the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).
This followed the presidential policy directives that strengthens Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC)’s power to approve and regulate integrated upstream operations.
Counsel for Mobil, Ituah Imhanze, informed Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, of the oil company’s motion to discontinue the suit.
Imhanze said the motion was filed on Oct. 23 and served on NMDPRA, the sole defendant in the matter.
“We have an application dated and filed on Oct. 23. It is for my lord to discontinue the suit,” he said.
Justice Ekwo, who reminded Imhanze that the matter was fixed for judgment, asked NMDPRA’s lawyer, A.V. Etuwewe, SAN, of his opinion about the application.
Etuwewe said though he did not oppose the application to withdraw the suit, the senior lawyer prayed the court to dismiss it instead of being struck out.
He argued that the matter was fixed for judgment and that he was only served with the application on Monday, citing previous cases to back his argument.
“We urge my lord to dismiss this suit and award very, very high cost,” he said.
But Imhanze disagreed with Etuwewe.
He argued that he would not concede to any cost because as a minister in the temple of justice, he had the duty to bring whatever happens in the course of a case to the notice of the court.
The lawyer hinged his argument on the recently released presidential policy directives which touched on the substance of the suit.
Justice Ekwo, consequently, dismissed the suit but declined to award cost against Mobil.
“Rather than award any cost, I will ask parties to go and remain in peace,” he said.
The Policy Directives on the Delineation of Regulatory Oversight between the NUPRC and NMDPRA Notice, 2023 (“the Presidential Policy Directives”) in Vol. 110 No. 158 of the Official Gazette, was recently gazetted.
President Bola Tinubu had, on Aug. 7, issued the policy directives as part of the efforts to tackle challenges and facilitate conducive operating and investment environment in the sector.
The suit instituted by Mobil vide an originating summons dated June 16 but filed June 19, sought the determination of which regulator had the authority to designate and approve its operations as integrated operations under the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.
The suit was triggered by the NMDPRA’s challenge of the NUPRC’s approval of Mobil’s operations as integrated upstream operations.