John ODHE, Yenagoa
A High Court sitting in Nembe, in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, has struck out the cases filed against Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company by some local surveillance contractors in Opu-Nembe.
Mr. Nicholas Ebiye, Johnson Theophilus and ten others who are surveillance contractors to Aiteo had dragged the oil firm to court over an alleged breach of contracts.
But Aiteo’s legal team raised a preliminary objection, stating that without contending that a contract exists, clause 12 of the contract provides for a medium of settlement of disputes that may arise between parties.
The oil firm pointed out that such medium is arbitration, not court action, stressing that court action is always instituted after arbitration has failed as both parties were bound by the agreement.
It emphasized that it was the contractors that would use their discretion to initiate the arbitration and invite Aiteo which he claims Aiteo, as a civil stakeholder to its contractors and host communities, would honour such an invitation.
But the contractors’ counsel led by S.A. Ibrahim countered the objection, arguing that Aiteo had not shown sufficient reason why the matter should be referred to arbitration.
In its ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice
L.M. Boufini struck out the matter and directed the parties involved to go for arbitration.
A legal expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity concerning the feud between the oil firm and its contractors condemned what he referred to as a media trial of a simple civic transaction and advised those involved to follow due process by exploring all civic means to resolve whatever conflict they have before blowing it out of proportion as something could not be put on nothing lest it collapses.
The matter was separately registered in suit numbers NHC/1/2020 to NHC/12/2020 in a Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Nembe over an alleged breach of contracts.