Supreme Court orders NNPC to pay firm N8bn in damages

NNPC GMD, Mele Kolo Kyari

NNPC GMD, Mele Kolo Kyari

 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its earlier judgment, ordering the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay $22.6 million (N8.14billion) in damages to BCE Consulting Engineers over a failed Consultancy Service Contract.

The NNPC, through its counsel, approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of the July 5, 2019 judgment over an alleged error of facts.

Judicial Review is a procedure provided under the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules for review of extant judgments.

The counsel argued that the court did not hear their preliminary objection and that their cross appeal was dismissed with hearing.

However, Justice C. C. Nweze, while delivering the judgment, dismissed the appeal, saying “this apex court cannot be cajoled with this kind of application, it’s an abuse of justice”.

Nweze, therefore, awarded costs of N500,000 to be paid personally by counsel to the NNPC.

BCE in its counter-affidavit had requested the court to disregard NNPC’s application but urged it to uphold the award of the N8.14 billion judgment sum because NNPC breached an agreement with it.

In July 1999, BCE filed an action at the Federal High Court, Lagos in Suit No. FHC/L/C/I316/2000 against NNPC following the Corporation’s termination of the contract at the directive of the Federal Government.

On March 7, 2002, the Court directed NNPC to pay BCE the sum of $22. 6 million damages for the illegal cancellation of the agreement.

The Court of Appeal directed NNPC to deposit the judgment into its coffers as condition for appeal to which NNPC complied.

On June 9, 2011, the court upheld NNPC’s appeal on grounds that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction over disputes arising from simple contracts.

On June 13, 2011, BCE applied to the Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeal judgment. Its application at the apex court succeeded.