Uneasy calm, Disquiet In Umueziogoli-Ebedei Community As Her Powergas Landlords Awaits Interlocutory Ruling on Oil & Gas Resource Control

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By Wilbet Ijeoma

Dark blue silhouette of scales of justice isolated on white background

The ongoing legal battle of who interfaces and control the oil and gas resources on lands occupied and being exploited by Powergas Ebedei Limited between a renowned Powergas landlord in Umueziogoli community, Prince Godswill Ijeoma and 4 others and some opportunists – Dennis Ataikwu Chiemeke and 5 others – that hijacked the leadership of the Palace in Umueziogoli community is likely to come to an end on 9th May 2024, when His Lordship Hon. Justice D.C. Maidoh will give an interlocutory and/or final ruling on the subject matter.

It is recalled that on the 19th day of May, 2023 precisely one year ago, Prince Godswill Ijeoma and 4 others who are the applicants/claimants in this case and accredited landlords of Powergas approached a High Court Holden at Kwale Division seeking amongst others, a specific order of performance of the Governor’s position paper issued after a diligent arbitration earlier on 9th August 2021 on the same subject matter which awarded to the landlords the sole prerogative to constitute oil and gas committees that will interface with oil companies (inclusive of Powergas Ebedei Limited) without let or interference. The claimants also sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining both Powergas Ebedei Limited and the Defendants who are not Powergas landlords and/or accredited landlords from interfacing with themselves on behalf of the claimants, pending when the substantive suit is determined. Furthermore, the substantive suit sought an order of declaration that the applicants are the lawful representatives of landlords to constitute oil and gas committee and interface with Powergas Ebedei Limited, an alternative relief in an order rescinding any decisions, agreements, transactions, payments, contracts or howsoever made between defendants and Powergas Ebedei Limited on behalf of the claimants or in respect of the compensations or benefits of the acquisition or use of the Claimants Lands by the 6th Defendant; for being without lawful or valid authority or prior appointment or at all, and a damage in the sum of ten million naira only to be awarded against the defendants jointly and/or severally.

The claimants heavily relied on a Supreme Court landmark ruling when the Supreme Court held in Momoh v. Umoru (2011) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1270) 217 at 282, amongst others, that the findings and decisions of any arbitrator or arbitrators or other persons or body of persons vested with judicial authority to hear and determine a particular dispute is undoubtedly a “judicial tribunal” and its awards are as a judgement or order of the Honourable Court to the same effect.

With these due legal diligence performed by the claimants, it is expected that the rule of law would take its course and justice served.