Union Bank/Petro-Union-$15b Judgment Order: Supreme Court Adjourns Hearing To Oct 7

The Supreme Court has fixed October 7, 2021, for the hearing of a motion seeking leave to appeal the £2.556 billion judgment order by the Federal High Court in 2014, in favour of Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Union Bank of Nigeria, the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The judgment was given jointly and severally against all the four Respondents and attracts interest at the rate of 15% per annum between 1994 and 2014 and thereafter at the rate of 10% per annum until it is paid. As of today, the total judgment sum is about $15.5 billion.

At resumes sitting on Monday, the lingering controversy over how the proceeds were to be shared and who had the right to represent Petro Union in the case came up again with two lawyers, Joe Kyari Gadzama, SAN and Onyechi Egwuonwu, announcing separate appearances for Petro Union.

Egwuonwu informed the court that he was briefed to institute the case leading to the judgment at the Federal High Court and that when the matter got to the Court of Appeal, he invited Gadzama to lead the legal team for Petro Union as the “instructing counsel”.

He also told the court that following his application to disqualify Gadzama from further appearing in the matter and to be disbarred, Gadzama hurriedly informed the court of his intention to withdraw his appearance in the case and followed this up by filing an affidavit to the same effect. He argued that having done so, Gadzama is estopped from changing his mind and continuing to act as counsel to Petro Union.

More so, he posited that having been instructed on a contingency fee basis which means that his fee is tied to a portion of the judgment sum and having been instructed through an irrevocable power of attorney, he could not be pushed out of the case.

After the court tried in vain to get the two warring lawyers to amicably resolve their disagreement, the court inquired from three persons representing Petro Union who their lawyers are and they each confirmed in open court that their lead lawyer is now Gadzama and that they had asked Egwuonwu to work together with him to no avail.

Following this confirmation, the court informed Egwuonwu that he could no longer be heard in the proceedings.

This paved the way for Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN leading other senior lawyers for the Appellants, to introduce his pending application.

Lawyers for CBN, Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Damian Dodo, SAN and Ghazali, SAN informed the court that they were not opposing the application of the Appellants but Gadzama told the court that he had filed a preliminary objection to the application.

Owing to the nature of the application, the court adjourned the hearing in the case to 7th October.

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