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Elf Petroleum (Nig.) Ltd v. Nwokoma

ELF PETROLEUM (NIGERIA) LIMITED

V

CHIEF OKITI NWOKOMA

PASTOR P. N. ORJI

( For themselves and on behalf of Oboburu Community)

COURT OF APPEAL

( PORT HARCOURT DIVISION )

JAMES OGENYI OGEBE, JCA ( Presided )

SYLVANUS ADIWERE NSOFOR, JCA

MICHAEL EYARUOMA AKPIROROH, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/PH/194/99

MONDAY, 10 TH DECEMBER,  2001

COURT - Federal High Court - Whether has exclusive jurisdiction over oil mining operations

JURISDICTION - Issue of jurisdiction - When can be raised - Need to consider same first when raised

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction over oil mining operations - Whether vested exclusively in the Federal High Court

Issue:

Whether on a proper construction of all relevant statutes, the learned trial Judge of the Rivers State High Court was right in holding that he had jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiffs’ suit.

Facts:

The plaintiffs/respondents filed an action at the Rivers State High court, Port Harcourt against the defendant/appellant claiming N596,546,000.00 as compensation for destruction done by the defendant to the crops, trees and animals of the plaintiffs as well as order compelling the defendant to rehabilitate the farm land of the plaintiffs.

Defendant/appellant brought application on 27th April, 1998 seeking to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction and abuse of the process of the court. At the conclusion of the arguments of the counsels, the learned trial Judge on 25th, June 1998 held that he had jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiffs’ suit.

Dissatisfied with the said ruling, the defendant/appellant brought this appeal.