BREAKING: NNPC applies to withdraw suit challenging ExxonMobil’s $1.28 billion asset divestment to Seplat

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has filed a motion in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, seeking to discontinue its ongoing legal action against several subsidiaries of Mobil Nigeria and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

The motion, filed on June 11, 2024, is part of a broader effort to finalize a settlement agreement involving the divestment of 100% interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

NNPC’s application, presented by their legal counsel Afe Babalola & Co., requests the court to grant leave for discontinuance and to strike out the suit, with the provision to relist it should the settlement process fail.

The initial suit, filed on July 5, 2022, was referred to arbitration by the court on August 3, 2022. However, recent negotiations led to a decision to settle the dispute out of court.

According to the motion, one of the conditions stipulated in the Settlement Agreement requires NNPC to withdraw the suit to facilitate the settlement.

In his affidavit, Isaika Popoola, a litigation manager at Afe Babalola & Co., detailed the history of the case, the arbitration process, and the terms of the settlement agreement.

Popoola noted that the parties had held several meetings to resolve the dispute concerning the divestment of MPNU shares to Seplat.

The agreement includes clauses to align the interests of all parties involved and finalize the transaction.

The motion highlights the court’s role in encouraging dispute resolution through arbitration, conciliation, and mediation, in line with Order 19 Rule 1 of the High Court’s rules.

NNPC’s legal team emphasized that the discontinuance is essential to complete the settlement process and that the application complies with Order 24 of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Civil Procedure Rules 2018.

Legal precedents cited in the motion include the Supreme Court decision in Adama v. Maigari (2019), which supports the relisting of a discontinued suit if the out-of-court settlement fails. This ensures that NNPC retains the right to seek judicial recourse should the settlement not be concluded successfully.

“The applicant humbly urges Your Lordship to grant leave to discontinue this suit and consequently strike it off the court’s cause list,” 

“Granting this application aligns with the policy of this Honourable Court and facilitates the finalization of the settlement process.” the motion states.

NNPC’s counsel argues that the discontinuance is in the interest of justice and promotes an efficient resolution without prolonged litigation.

The motion also requests the court to strike out the suit without costs, underscoring the parties’ commitment to an amicable settlement.

The court is now tasked with considering the motion, which, if granted, would mark a significant step towards resolving the longstanding dispute between NNPC, the Mobil subsidiaries, and NUPRC, enabling the parties to focus on finalizing the settlement and the divestment transaction.

More to follow….


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