Ararume’s Case And Concerns Regarding NNPCL Ventures

By Adewole Kehinde

On April 18, 2023, the Federal High Court in Abuja declared the sack of Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume as Non-Executive Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) illegal and unlawful.

Delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Inyang Ekwo said that his removal was unconstitutional, and as such, the court restored him as the non-executive chairman of the company with full benefits.

Justice Ekwo awarded N5 billion as damages in favour of Ararume.

The judgement will have far-reaching effects on the operations of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited unless a political solution is considered.

With a nonchalant attitude from the Federal Government on the judgement, foreign and local contractors and investors who have entered into businesses worth billions of dollars with the company in the last few months are apprehensive over the faith of the businesses.

Although the verdict may not affect investment decisions made in the past because the Federal High Court is just a court of first instance, the Federal Government must appeal the judgement to maintain the status quo ante.

If no visible solution is found on time, it may erode investors’ confidence, who may see the NNPCL structure as unstable.

This is because Justice Inyang Ekwo also set aside every decision taken by the board that was appointed after Ararume’s removal.

One advantage of the judgement is that the verdict is a victory for the PIA, as it has shown that it is no longer business as usual.

The development has also revealed the possibility of the NNPCL achieving its objectives since it will now be governed by CAMA law.

I doubt if the Buhari administration will do anything concerning the judgement as they are busy with handing over, and the earlier the incoming administration takes an urgent step, the better for NNPC Limited.

Adewole Kehinde is an Energy Expert and Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja. 08166240846]