africa

Court to rule on DPR’s power to stop oil firms’ sack of workers


By Robert Egbe

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos will on December 10 rule on whether the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) can regulate how oil and gas firms can disengage their workers.

Justice Nicolas Oweibo adjourned for judgment after parties adopted their processes yesterday.

The suit was filed by an oil and gas lawyer, Temilolu Adamolekun, against the Minister of Petroleum, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Attorney-General of the Federation as first to third defendants/respondents.

Adamolekun told the court that the petroleum minister made Regulations 15A Petroleum (Drilling and Production) (Amendment) Regulations 1988 to the effect that holders of oil mining lease, license or permit must seek his approval to remove any worker from his employment.

He said it seeks to enforce the regulation through the Guidelines for the release of staff in the Nigerian oil and gas industry 2019, published by the DPR.

Adamolekun prayed the court to quash the regulation on the ground that it contravened the provisions of National Assembly enactments on employees and employers dispute which is the sole responsibility of National Industrial Court.

Counsel for the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Mr Adebayo Ologe opposed the prayers.

Ologe filed a preliminary objection praying the court to strike out the suit for lack/want of jurisdiction, lack of locus standi to sue and/or lack of reasonable cause of action

In his June 5 statement of claim, Adamolekun contended that the regulations and guidelines being subsidiary laws and procedural rules went outside the relevant subsidiary law, which is the Petroleum Act, 2004.

The regulations and guidelines, he argued, violate the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government.

He said: “There is no law that makes the powers of the first and second defendants to be an exception to the sanctity of the doctrine of privacy of contract.”

Adamolekun prayed the court for a declaration that the Regulations 15A and the Guidelines are not grounded /founded on the provisions of the Petroleum Act 2004 and the 1999 Constitution.

“A declaration that under Section 254 of the Constitution, the first and second defendants lack the powers to adjudicate and determine the rights of employers and their employees in relation to their employment contracts…and that such power is completely vested in the National Industrial Court.

“An order that the provisions of the Regulations and the Guidelines for the release in the Nigerian oil and gas industry 2019, made pursuant to the regulations are void to the existence of their inconsistency with the constitution.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from enforcing the provisions of Regulations 15A Petroleum (Drilling and Production) (Amendment) Regulations 1988 and the Guidelines for the release in the Nigerian oil and gas industry 2019.”

 



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