A Rivers State High Court has fixed June 20, 2023, to rule whether to continue or stop hearing on a suit brought against Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) by one of its indigenous contractors,
Macobarb International Limited.
The development followed the decision of NLNG to file and interlocutory appeal before the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, challenging a ruling of the lower court.
Macobarb had dragged the energy company to High Court in 2022 claiming N1Billion as accumulated claims for a 2014 contract gone sour.
The presiding judge, Hon. Justice Chinwendu Nwogu, has during the last hearing ruled against preliminary objections raised by counsels to NLNG, claiming that case was status barred and that the chief executive officer of Macobarb should not be a party. The court also awarded N200,000 costs to Macobarb.
Speaking to newsmen outside the court, counsel to Macobarb, Morrison Uzoma said: “Today we came for the civil matter of Macobarb against the NLNG. It is a matter that is founded on breach of contract and midway before today, they raised objection that the suit is status-barred and the court should dismiss or strike it out.
“The court delivered ruling saying that no, the suit is not in any manner status-barred and the court ruled in favour of Macobarb, dismissed the objection, and then awarded N200,000 cost against them.”
The counsel explained that haven heard that particular ruling, pursuant to it, the NLNG now filed what we called interlocutory appeal.
Uzoma said: “They didn’t wait to subsume whatever thing they want to do at the court of appeal to be done here, you know simultaneously, as the law and all the judicial precedents, the plethora of authorities that have already stated that once such a thing happens, that they should wait and proceed only at the end of the trial.
“The position of the law is that they should raise that ground of appeal together with any grounds at the end of any final judgement.
“Now they appealed and today they brought a motion in fact, today was the motion for stay of proceeding pending the interlocutory appeal. We filed counter affidavit, and also accompanied same with a motion for extension of time to file and regularise the counter affidavit, and I said no, that thing ought not to be regularised, when they from inception never opposed it by way of counter affidavit.
“The court said no, from day one, you never indicated any interest to oppose it, you never filed counter affidavit and the court cannot shut us out on the ground that the NLNG has moved their own motion before Macobarb wanted to move our motion, and that particular objection was discountenanced by the court and we proceeded immediately to adopt our written addresses for him in support of his motion for stay and for me against the motion for stay of proceedings.”