Two multinational oil companies, Total E&P Nigeria Plc and Chevron Nigeria Limited, have lost out in their bid to stall a suit instituted by the Federal Government accusing the companies of short-changing Nigeria to the tune of $245,258,640 by allegedly shipping barrels of crude oil out of the country without making due remittance to the government.
This was sequel to the dismissal of the preliminary objections filed by the two companies against the suit yesterday by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola of a Federal High Court in Lagos. In her ruling, the judge declared their preliminary objections as unmeritorious and ordered them to file their defence.
Justice Olatoregun–Ishola has adjourned the matter to October 25 for commencement of hearing.
In the suit, the Federal Government accused the two oil companies and an indigenous firm, Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited of under-declaring the volume of crude oil they shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014. Government is claiming the sum of $145,848,102 from Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited.
The Federal Government, through its lawyer, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), claimed that the actions followed a forensic analysis linking the decline in crude oil export and government revenue to the alleged under-declaration of volume of crude oil shipped out of the country by the oil companies.
Government contended that sometime in 2014, it realised a decline in its oil export revenue and this necessitated an intelligent gathering of data, which showed that part of the reasons for the decline was the under-declaration of crude oil shipments made by some major oil and gas companies operating in the country.