Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday, dismissed a $110million suit filed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, against Agip Oil Company Ltd, over insufficient evidence.
The suit which was instituted by the government in 2016, through its counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), is one among others, seeking to recover almost $12 billion in missing crude oil revenue from some international oil companies.
The plaintiff claimed $110million from the respondent for allegedly under-declaring the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.
The Federal Government accused Agip of short-changing it to the tune of $55million.
It prayed the court to compel the oil firm to pay the $55million with an annual interest of 21 per cent, as well as $55million as exemplary damages.
But, Agip denied the allegations and urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Olatoregun, held that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims.
She held that there was no evidence that the crude oil the defendant lifted was more than what was declared.
According to her, it is trite and settled law that he who asserts must prove.
“The burden of proof starts with the plaintiff and keeps shifting until all the required evidence is placed before the court.
“Exhibit DA 10 shows that MT Cosmos was nominated to ship 949,096 barrels of crude oil and exhibit DC 10 from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, shows the barrel of crude oil as 949,096 barrels from MT Cosmos.
“The plaintiff cited the same bill of lading number, but i have no reason to suggest that the bill of lading covers the excess 500,000 barrels of crude oil.
“While I do not have any evidence to suggest that it is impossible for the defendant to carry undeclared crude oil from Nigeria, I have no evidence to show that MT Cosmos carried the excess 500,000 barrels of crude oil with same bill of lading,” she held.
The court held that the plaintiff failed to prove its case by supplying the requisite evidence, adding that the main purpose of final addresses is to assist the court.