The Senate has been sued for N10 billion by Halkin Exploration and Production Limited for investigating a dispute the company had with another oil firm, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited.
The disputing companies had a petition laid before the upper legislative Chambers which had been referred to the Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges chaired by Senator Ayo Akinyelure.
Both companies had laid claims to owning Atala Marginal Oil Field (OML 46), worth $60 million but at the rescheduled Committee hearing on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, Halkin Exploration and Production Limited sought for the panel’s discontinuation of hearing and announced that the Senate has been sued for N10 billion for daring to investigate the matter.
Angered by the development, the Committee insisted that it had powers in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate, threatening that the Managing Director of Halkin must appear before it at the adjourned date.
Hardy Oil had in a petition filed against Halkin to the Senate, alleged that Atala Marginal Field ( OML 46) hitherto owned by it, was fraudulently sold to Halkin by the now-scrapped Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The Committee expressed surprise that the two disputing oil firms at the beginning of the investigative hearing made themselves available for investigation through their representatives in October, only for Halkin to slam the committee with a N10 billion suit, asking for discontinuation.
The Committee Chairman said his office received a letter from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), M.A Mahmud on the order of Halkin Exploration and Production Limited, stating that they have gone to Court.
He said: “The SAN in the letter, informed us that the Senate had been sued for the sum of N10 billion and that all issues relating to the oil well, are to be handled by the court of law.
“This to us is unacceptable because none of the disputing parties was in court before the petition was received by us upon which investigation commenced with the attendance of the two parties.
Senator Akinyelure reminded the panellists of Halkin’s letter dated 12th October 2021 of their intention to appear before the Senate Committee with documents to support their ownership claims, wondering what was responsible for the afterthought.
“Mr Odogu must appear at our next sitting failure of which, warrants of arrest would be issued on him because nobody can stop the Senate from carrying out investigation brought before it as empowered by section 88 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The Clerk of this committee will write the Halkin’s MD for a rescheduled appearance which must be honoured”, he said.
Other members of the Committee, Senators James Manager, Uche Ekwunife, Smart Adeyemi, Sam Egwu, vowed to ensure the continuation of the investigation at the next sitting.