The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday tasked the judicial arm of government to be up-to-date with the current happenings in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
The minister, while speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) for Judges in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja, noted that the workshop represented the federal government’s commitment to further assist the judicial arm of government in building capacity and enhancing its competence for an effective and efficient administration of justice as regards the oil and gas sector.
Kachikwu, represented by the Director of Legal Services, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Muhammed Saidu, stated that the Nigerian oil and gas industry is a dynamic one, such that the exploration, production and contraction processes are complex and rapidly changing hence “the need for your lordship to be up-to-date with the current happening of the industry cannot be overemphasised.”
According to him, “The responsibility of effective and efficient justice system can only be achieved through training, re-training and by attending workshop of this kind.
“The workshop, which is the second for the members of the Bench, is expected to provide participants with new knowledge and skills, capable of developing and enhancing the Judges’ competencies for speedy dispensation of justice. And as officers of justice, it is expected that you dispense justice in a more effective and judicial manner in line with our judicial guidelines.”
He explained that for many years, the Nigerian oil and gas industry has been operating in a legislations and guidelines which sometimes are not in harmony with the current trends in the industry practice globally.
The minister further disclosed that the Nigerian oil and gas industry has developed on focusing in increasing indigenous participation in the industry, which is reflected through the federal government initiative of increasing local content and ensuring that indigenous company has a greater part in developing the oil and gas access.
“You will agree with me that there is need for trainings in other to address the lacuna in terms of capacity building. This event will extensively look into major challenges in the Administration of Justice as it relates to the Nigeria oil and gas industry. The workshop will also look into alternative dispute resolution, more particularly, administration in the oil and gas argument,” Kachikwu said.
Speaking in similar vein, the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammed, said considering the high-risk, complex operation and gamut of legal issues that would arise from the activities of the different component of the oil and gas sector, there is a need for the Judges to be sufficiently skilled and proficient at all levels of the sector.
Muhammed disclosed that the principal role of the judiciary is adjudication, and “this therefore implies that disputes or controversy must exist before the court can be called upon to adjudicate.”
He said: “Consequently, in order to discharge effectively our duties, judicial officers must have the proper grasp of the law and this forum provides us with viable opportunity to achieve same.
The CJN, represented by Justice Dongban M. Mensen, however, said the theme: ‘Review of the Legal Instruments Governing The Operations of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry’, underscore the critical role in the development of the oil and gas sector.
Earlier, the Executive Director, PTDF, Dr. Bello Gusau, in his welcome address, stated that currently, the operations of the oil and gas sector is complex and is also constituted by complex relationships of new laws regulations and guidelines, thus, the judicial system should align with the evolving changes in the discharge of their duties.
Gusau said with the evolving laws and procedures regulating the industry, the judicial system as a major stakeholder on legal issues must make laws that correspond with these changes.