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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tonye Cole’s Sahara Energy Battles N4.2billion Trouble

One of the foremost indigenous oil marketers Sahara Energy has found itself on the wrong side of a legal suit after being dragged before a
federal high court. The complainant in the case, Eterna Oil, is accusing the company of failing to facilitate the payment of the oil subsidy sum of approximately ₦4.3 billion. 
Standing as joint defendants in the suit filed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa are the trio of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Federal Ministry of Finance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
However, in a recent and surprising development, counsel for the plaintiff Oluwakemi Balogun, SAN has filed a notice of discontinuance on behalf of Eterna Oil, seeking to put an end to the suit. The court has fixed 3rd of October, 2018 for hearing.
Eterna had gone to court to compel Sahara Energy to carry out the necessary steps needed for the release of oil subsidy payment totalling ₦4.3 billion by PPPRA and the ministry of finance. The payment is the difference between the cost of importing Petroleum Motor Spirit and the selling price fixed by the federal government.
Eterna had alleged that it entered into a joint venture agreement with Sahara Energy for the delivery and sale of 15 000 metric tonnes of PMS after which the two parties carried our three further transactions of the same nature.
It claimed that because Sahara Energy has failed to pay the requisite Petroleum Equalization Fund PEF and PPPRA administration charges totalling around ₦246.7 million, the ministry of finance has refused to pay them the petroleum subsidy. Payment of both fees is a precondition for the issuance of requisite sovereign debt Note for payment of Petroleum Subsidy.
Despite their complicity in the non-release of the subsidy funds, Eterna claimed, Sahara Energy wrote the company a letter titled “statutory demand for payment of outstanding sum of ₦2,685,855,939.19”. The mentioned sum represents Sahara Energy’s share of the subsidy payment under the joint venture agreement.
The company therefore sought among other reliefs a perpetual injunction restraining Sahara Energy and its agents from doing anything that can disrupt the smooth operation of Eterna Oil or submitting a winding up or related petitions against Eterna Oil in relation to the nonpayment of their share of the subsidy amount.

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