Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru

* OPEC’s output hit second-highest level in September

An Abuja-based lawyer has asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to restrain the Senate from inviting the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, over the allegation contained in a leaked letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.

This is coming as crude oil production by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hit the second highest monthly level this year in September, returning to growth after the oil cartel’s output fell for the first time in five months in August.

In the suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/953/17, the plaintiff, Johnmary Chukwukasi Jideobi has also asked the court to set aside the October 4, 2017 proceedings of the Senate on the ground that the Senate’s planned investigation is based on the contents of an unconfirmed document of doubtful origin.

According to the originating summons, the counsel to the plaintiff, Ramsey Abuchi Omego wants the court to determine “whether in view of combined reading of Sections 5 and 88 (2) (a) and (b) of the amended 1999 constitution, the investigative powers of the Senate is extendable to the contents of documents with unconfirmed doubtful origin forming the basis of a probe into the activities” of Baru in his management of the NNPC.

The plaintiff is also seeking an order declaring the October 4, 2017 resolutions of the Senate as illegal and therefore liable to be set aside.

He also wants the court to set aside and void the votes and proceedings of the Senate conducted on October 4, 2017. The plaintiff has also asked the court to issue an order restraining the Senate from acting on the votes and proceedings of October 4, 2017. The defendants in the suit include: the NNPC; the Group Managing Director of NNPC; the Senate President and the Senate.

The Senate had set up an ad-hoc committee to carry out “holistic investigation” into allegations of corruption against Baru, which are contained in Kachikwu’s letter.

In a related development, OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report, released yesterday, showed that the cartel’s oil production hit 32.75 million barrels a day in September, up about 88,500 barrels a day from the previous month.

The report showed that Nigeria, Libya and Iraq saw the biggest output increases last month.

OPEC slightly raised its forecast for world oil demand in 2017 and 2018, and sees a strong market for distillates this winter.

It raised its forecast for world oil consumption in 2017 and 2018 for a third-straight month. OPEC forecasts the world’s appetite for oil will grow by 1.5 million bpd this year and 1.4 million bpd in 2018.

The cartel raised both forecasts by 30,000 bpd, citing higher-than-expected demand in China and developed nations this year and an improving economic outlook in 2018, particularly in Russia and China. The improved demand outlook from both OPEC and the International Energy Agency last month underpinned the oil market rally in September.

OPEC and other major oil exporters, including Russia, had resolved to keep about 1.8 million barrels per day of supply off the market through March. The goal is to shrink global crude stockpiles and drain a glut that has weighed on prices for the last three years. Nigeria and Libya, both exempt from the production cuts, led the gains with monthly increases of about 50,000 bpd each.

Nigeria’s production held above 1.8 million bpd for a second month. The country has said it will consider production limits once its output stabilizes above that level. OPEC gave Nigeria and Libya a waiver because internal conflicts caused big production declines in both countries last year.

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