From Joe Effiong
The Akwa Ibom State government has tackled President Muhammadu Buhari over his statement concerning the sale of Exxon Mobil shares to an indigenous company, saying the president is playing with contemptuous of court.
The president, through Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, had issued a press release to the effect that the president in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, and in consonance with the country’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector, had consented to the acquisition of Exxon Mobil shares in the United States of America by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.
The state house press release had said in part: “Exxon Mobil had entered into a landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc, both registered in Delaware, USA.”
“Considering the extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy, President Buhari has given Ministerial Consent to the deal.
The President, in commitment to investment drive in light of the Petroleum Industry Act, granted consent to the Share Sales Agreement, as requested by the parties to the transaction, and directed that the approval be conveyed to all the parties involved.
“Exxon Mobil/Seplat are expected to carry out operatorship of all the oil mining licenses in the related shallow water assets towards production optimization to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetization of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy. President Buhari also directed that all environmental and abandonment liabilities be adequately mitigated by Exxon Mobil and Seplat.”
But reacting to the release, the Akwa Ibom State Government through Uko Udom (SAN), the state attorney general and commissioner for justice issued a caveat warning the public that “this proposed transaction is subject to restraining orders of injunction of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, sitting in Uyo in Suits No. HEK/56/2018, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF AKWA IBOM STATE V. MOBIL PRODUCING NIGERIA UNLIMITED and HU/209/2020, MOBIL PRODUCING NIGERIA UNLIMITED V. GOVERNOR OF AKWA IBOM STATE & 3 OTHERS. ExxonMobil, Seplat Energy, NNPC Ltd and the Federal Government of Nigeria, all have actual knowledge of the court orders, having been duly served with the orders and/or various newspaper publications of same.”
“This executive interference with the judicial process of a court of competent jurisdiction is sad and ill-advised and is contemptuous of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State. The State urges the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to take the above facts into consideration as it considers its position in this matter.
“Take notice therefor that anyone who deals with the shares or assets of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited during the subsistence of the said orders and in the pendency of the above suits does so at their own risk. Let the buyer beware.” The state government said.
Only last month, Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot, sentenced a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Inibehe Effiong to court on account of contempt of court.