Akwa Ibom Govt Attacks Presidency Over Purported Approval Of Mobil Acquisition By Seplat

…Says Court Injunction In Favour Of Akwa Ibom On Mobil Assets Still In Force

…Describes Presidency’s Interference With Judicial Process As ‘Sad, Ill-Advised’

The Government of Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday warned the federal government, Seplat and other interested parties to stay clear of the acquisition of the shares of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.

The state government said this in a statement personally signed by the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Uko Essien Udom (SAN) and made available to THE WHISTLER.

Seplat Energy Plc had in February this year announced an agreement to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Delaware for $1.28bn.

The transaction entails the acquisition of ExxonMobil Nigeria’s entire offshore shallow water business.

According to the deal, ExxonMobil Nigeria’s shallow water business is an established, high-quality operation with a highly skilled local operating team and a track record of safe operations.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has a pre-emptive right over the asset and had last month won a court decision temporarily blocking Exxon Mobil Corporation from selling assets in Nigeria to Seplat Energy Plc.

A Judge in Abuja had granted NNPC an “order of interim injunction” on July 6, 2022, barring Exxon Mobil “from completing any divestment” in a unit that ultimately operates four licenses in Nigeria.

Despite the verdict of the Court, reports emerged on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved that the deal be consummated by Mobil and Seplat.

The Presidency’s announcement of the approval of the deal took many industry players by surprise because the transaction had initially been declined on July 5 this year by the President who is himself the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

But reacting to the development, the Justice Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State faulted the statement issued by the President’s Spokesman, Femi Adesina to the effect that the deal had been approved by Buhari.

Udom in the statement warned that the Mobil transaction is subject to restraining orders of injunction of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, sitting in Uyo.

He said it was curious that the President had purportedly granted approval to the deal when it was obvious that Exxonmobil, Seplat Energy, the NNPC Ltd and the Federal Government of Nigeria, all have actual knowledge of the court orders, having been duly served with the orders.

The State Government said it was curious that despite the Court order, the Presidency will still go ahead to issue an approval for the acquisition, adding that the interference of the Executive arm of government with the judicial process of a court of competent jurisdiction is “sad and ill-advised.”

It, therefore, warned that anyone who deals with the shares or assets of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited during the subsistence of the said orders and in the pendency of the above suits does so at their own risk.

The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to a publication by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources has consented to the acquisition of shallow water assets of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat Energy.

“This is to inform the general public that this proposed transaction is subject to restraining orders of injunction of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, sitting in Uyo in Suits No. HEK/56/2018, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF AKWA IBOM STATE V. MOBIL PRODUCING NIGERIA UNLIMITED and HU/209/2020, MOBIL PRODUCING NIGERIA UNLIMITED V. GOVERNOR OF AKWA IBOM STATE & 3 OTHERS.

“Exxonmobil, Seplat Energy, NNPC Ltd and the Federal Government of Nigeria, all have actual knowledge of the court orders, having been duly served with the orders and/or various newspaper publications of same.

“This executive interference with the judicial process of a court of competent jurisdiction is sad and ill-advised, and is contemptuous of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State. The State urges the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to take the above facts into consideration as it considers its position in this matter.

“Take notice therefore that anyone who deals with the shares or assets of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited during the subsistence of the said orders and in the pendency of the above suits does so at their own risk. Let the buyer beware.”

ENDS

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