Mobil’s failure to compile records stalls hearing of seven-year old appeal


The Supreme Court refused  to hear the appeal filed in 2010 by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited owing to Mobil’s failure to have records of proceedings at the lower court compiled and transmitted to the apex court.

At the proceedings on September 25, a five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Mary Odili, heard and granted an application by Mobil to regularise its appeal and deemed its processes filed out of time as properly filed.

When it was time to hear the main appeal, marked: SC/33/2010, Justice Odili noted that a copy the record of appeal was missing in her file.

Other members of the panel also did not have the record, prompting Justice Odili to ask Mobil’s lawyer, Rowland Obaji to furnish the court with a copy.

Obaji handed a copy to an official of the court, but on a closer look at the record given to the court by Obaji, another member of the panel, Justice Kayode Ariwoola noticed that it was not the proper record for the court.

Justice Ariwoola noted that the record retrieved from Obaji did not have the Supreme Court’s appeal number, as was the practice.

Lawyers to the respondents – Femi Falana (SAN) and Sebastian Ozoama – also said they do not have the record.

Falana said he was not served with the record by the appellant, as required; but that his clients went out of their way to obtain a copy from the Court of Appeal, Calabar, where the case was last decided. He said the record was not with him in court.

Ozoama, who also filed a similar appeal (SC/378/2010), said he was not served with the record by the appellant.

He said his client, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), needed not to compile a fresh record of appeal, because the court had on March 2011, granted the IGP leave to have his appeal prosecuted on the record compiled by Mobil, since both appeals were on the same judgment.

At that point, Justice Odili announced that it was impossible for the court to proceed to hear the two appeals as earlier scheduled.

She consequently adjourned to January 23, 2018 for hearing, and ordered the two appellants to ensure they come with the record of appeal on the next date.

Mobil’s appeal is against the May 21, 2009 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

The court, in the judgment, held among others, that the about 859 Nigerians engaged as security guards sometime in1990 by Mobil, were its staff and that they were entitled to the same benefits as its other staff.

The IGP’s appeal is also challenging the judgment on the grounds that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have held that the security guards, labelled as Supernumerary Police (SPY), were staff of Mobil.

In 2000 a dispute arose about the status of the security guards, with Mobil claiming to have transferred their employment to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

Mobil claimed it engaged them as SPY police personnel and not actual staff, a claim the affected workers, led by Okon Johnson, disputed in a suit they later instituted  at the Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The court in 2006 held in favour of Mobil, forcing the workers to appeal at the Court of Appeal, Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

In a unanimous judgment on May 21, 2009 the Appeal Court held among others, that the Nigerians were Mobil’s employees, a decision both Mobil and the IGP separately appealed.

Culled from here


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