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Published On: Wed, Mar 7th, 2018

Why we’re training judges on oil, gas law -CJN

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Justice Walter Nkanu Onnnoghen, yesterday, explained the rationale behind the training of judicial officers on laws guiding the oil and gas industry.
The workshop is being organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Management Board (NCDMB) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute(NJI).
Speaking at the opening of the national workshop on Nigerian local content development and monitoring for judicial officers, the CJN said the workshop is organised with the objective of keeping Justices and Judges abreast with the role of the judiciary in ensuring mastery of the dealings in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“Indeed, the adjudicatory duty of a Judge can only be performed optimally when he remains up to date with the emerging developments and trends in jurisprudence pertaining to the oil and gas sector.
The CJN stressed that the workshop “seeks to highlight matters that are germane and critical to the ongoing reforms being experienced in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
He further explained that the reforms are epitomised by the willingness of the government to promote local content in the provision of technology and manpower to the downstream sector.
“In addition, the recent passage of the Petroleum Industry (Governance) Bill is an indication that the government is steering the oil and gas sector in the right direction,” he stated.
“I make bold to say, without any fear of contradiction, that the Nigerian Judiciary is a key partner in ensuring stability in the oil and gas sector by interpretation of the relevant laws to the industry.
“In this regard, I must not fail to emphasize that you must have recourse to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010 when adjudicating over disputes related to Oil and Gas Servicing and Exploration Contracts as the clauses contained in such agreements must respect the stipulation of the Act with regard to deployment of local expertise and manpower in the downstream sector,” he concluded In her own view, the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice Rosaline Bozimo, said judges were required to possess adequate knowledge and skills on oil and gas to efficiently adjudicate on the cases that may come before them.
“This has ultimately informed the need for this workshop to be held so as to expose judicial officers to legal and technical aspects of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.”
Represented by the Institute’s Secretary, Abubakar Maidona, charged judges to be proactive in the discharge of their constitutional duties by not allowing technicalities stand in the way of substantive justice, especially with regard to oil and gas disputes which accrue huge financial costs for the litigating parties.
Also, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engineer Simbi Wobote, in his remarks, solicited the support of the judiciary to achieve the board’s drive to create wealth for local businesses and jobs for teeming populace in line with the law.
He noted that an enabling regulatory framework backed with the appropriate legislation was fundamental for sustainable local content practice.
“In Nigeria, we have moved from the ‘best endeavour’ environment into the one in which there is a law in place. Thus, it is no longer optional or debatable whether to comply.
“Much of the 28 per cent local content achievement has been done, using the passion and commitment of the various directorates in the Board.
“Our next big leap from 28 per ceng to 70 per cent in-country value retention will require change in the enforcement of the law to drive reversal of capital outflow.
“We need the support of the judiciary to achieve our drive to create wealth for local businesses and jobs for our teeming populace in line with the law.”

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