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allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Court Adjourns Arms Company Suit Against Shell

Vanguard (Lagos)
December 7, 2006
Innocent Anaba
Lagos

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned till December 20, 2006 further hearing in the suit by X.M. Federal, an International Arms Company, in which the company had sued Shell Petroleum Development Company, over the termination of its contract to supply arms to the oil company.

Counsel to the plaintiffs in the matter, Tete Adam, told the court at the resumed hearing of the matter that in view of the processes served on him by the defendant, the plaintiffs will need to amend their statement of claim. According to him, “After a proper study of the further statement of defence that the court granted leave to amend, we felt that it will be better for us (plaintiffs) to amend our statement of claim, so what we don’t start amending it mid-way into the hearing of the matter”.
 
The presiding judge, Justice Abdulahi Mustapha however, noted that in view of the fact that the defendant may at the next adjourned date, say it need to reply to whatever is filed, that it would be better if the matter is adjourned for mention.

The court consequently adjourned the matter till December 20.

The court had last month, when the matter came up for hearing after the Supreme Court ordered the matter to be heard afresh, said the court will go on to hear the matter even if counsel to Shell decides to be absent from court.

Following the suit by X.M. Federal, in which the company is also claiming the sum of $20million as damages for breach of contract, Shell filed a preliminary objection, contending that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. The Federal High Court however, ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Shell appealed to the Court of Appeal and in 2004, the appellate court dismissed Shell’s appeal. Shell then headed to the Supreme Court and on July 14, 2006, the apex court dismissed Shell’s appeal and remitted the matter back to the federal high court for continuation of hearing.

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