A Federal High Court, in Abuja has barred the federal government from implementing the fuel subsidy report by not prosecuting any official of the Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd.
Presiding Judge, Justice Gladys Olotu, in her ruling on Wednesday, ordered that the “status quo” be maintained, pending the determination of the originating summons filed by the company.
“The government and its agents are hereby prevented from arresting, detaining, prosecuting and recovering the N13.2 billion alleged to have been received by the plaintiff as fuel subsidy claims, pending the determination of the case,” she said.
Justice Oluto, also granted accelerated hearing in the suit, saying “this summons is hereby accorded an accelerated hearing in order to expeditiously dispose of it.”
The company prayed the court on June 25th with a motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 26 Rule 2 and Order 28 Rule 1 of the Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
Integrated Oil prayed the court to declare that the Federal Government, as represented by the defendants joined in the suit was not entitled by law to act or take any step on account of the resolution of the first defendant.
The company also requested an injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents or representatives from any act or taking steps against the plaintiff and its officers on account of implementing the April 25th subsidy report.
The oil marketing company is amongst the 210 companies included in the fuel subsidy report produced by the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on the management of the nation’s Fuel Subsidy. Integrated Oil is alleged to have claims of N13.2 billion collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Joined in the case are the House of Representatives, the embattled former chairman of the ad-hoc Committee on the Management of Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan and the Attorney General of the Federation. Also joined are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector General of Police.
The company, which is owned by a former Internal Affairs Minister, Emmanuel Ihenacho, sued the respondents, following the indictment of the company as one of the major oil marketers that collected foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and failed to import or supply the fuel.
The plaintiff sought a declaration that the resolution of the first defendant-House of Reps-passed on April 25th, which approved the report of the Ad-hoc Committee was illegal.
Speaking to journalists after the proceeding, Tayo Eyitibo (SAN), counsel to the plaintiff, said any action taken against his client would be illegal, particularly when it had challenged the constitutionality and credibility of the probe report.
Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), counsel to the defendants, noted that the order granted for accelerated hearing of the suit was important to the case.
He added that government would complete investigations into the matter in order to pave the way for the prosecution of indicted companies.
“The report of the committee is still being considered as fact finding, requiring relevant security agencies to first study it before any legal action can be taken,” he said.
The case was adjourned to October 18 for further hearing.