A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has absolved Macobarb International Limited of any impediments to proving its claim of N1 billion against its erstwhile client, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) over a contract that went awry between the duo.
Justice Chinwendu Nwogu who presided over the case which came up on Monday, December 19, 2022, slammed a N200,000 fine on NLNG for wasting the court’s time in a case filed by one of its contractors, Macobarb International Limited.
Macobarb, alongside its CEO, Shedrack Ogboru, had dragged the NLNG to court over a contract gone sour, asking for over N1Billion for allegedly breaching terms of the contract and using same breaches to cancel the contract.
In its defence, NLNG raised preliminary objections on two grounds of the case being status barred and that the CEO was not a proper party.
But Justice Nwogu of State High Court 18 ruled that the NLNG wasted the court’s time by filing those objections.
According to the judge, Macobarb’s case was clearly filed within time in 2019 despite it being initially struck out, further ruling that the CEO, Shedrack Ogboru, was a proper person to be part of the case, being an injured party.
He consequently slammed the N200,000 award against the NLNG, asserting that citizens have the right under Nigerian laws to press for claims if they felt aggrieved and injured.
Recall that Macobarb International Limited, a local contractor, dragged the NLNG to court claiming over N1Billion for alleged breaches to a contract (B130142PPI, Access Control) in the NLNG plant area with three years duration.
The suit said the contract provided that Macobarb be paid progressively based on the value of verified work done.
Macobarb, in its claims, said the contract also disallowed any form of delay in the project and provided for penalty on whichever party was responsible for the delay.
The company further claimed that the contract terms also provided for alert system should there be any cause for delay in the course of executing the project, informing the court that it activated the alert clauses when payment delays began to happen, asserting that nothing was done by its client to rectify the delays until the contract was terminated.
Reacting via a Motion on Notice to dismiss the suit, the NLNG through its lawyers asked the court to strike out the case, stressing that the court should issue an order dismissing the suit in its entirety, alleging incompetence and want of jurisdiction.
It argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the suit, claiming that the suit was status-barred (filed outside time limit) since the incident that warranted the case took place on November 27, 2015, which is over five years before the commencement of the action in court.
Macobarb countered that they filed the matter in 2018, but that it was struck out in 2021 for want of due diligence, that the deficiencies have been rectified.
Quoting several Supreme Court rulings to support its counters, Macobarb urged the court to dismiss the application of NLNG seeking to strike out the case, to which the court acquiesced.
Counsels to the NLNG declined comments after the ruling but A.K. Anyanwu, one of the counsels from Morrison Uzoma Chambers, commended the court for doing due diligence on the matter and critically reviewing at the various arguments and gave the right ruling.
Reacting, the embattled CEO of Macobarb, Ogboru, said the judiciary has saved one more citizen by ruling that the case was not status-barred and that he as an injured party who suretied the loans taken to prosecute the project was a proper party to be in the case.