Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, of Nigeria Limited, has been ordered by a Federal High Court to pay directly to Ogoni communities the sum of more N45 billion being judgement debt awarded against it for oil spillages which occurred in 1970, affecting the oil-rich communities in Rivers State. Shell indeed informed the Federal High Court
Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, of Nigeria Limited, has been ordered by a Federal High Court to pay directly to Ogoni communities the sum of more N45 billion being judgement debt awarded against it for oil spillages which occurred in 1970, affecting the oil-rich communities in Rivers State.
Shell indeed informed the Federal High Court through its lawyer, Afam Ejelam, that the Company has already reached out to the communities to perfect all the modalities for the payment, in line with judgement of the High Court which was further affirmed by the Supreme Court.
But, there is a contention: Whereas Shell wants to deposit the judgement sum into the Court Chief Registrar’s account, but counsel to Ogoni communities, Mr. Lucius Nwosu, SAN, argued that it would be wrong for the judgement debt to be paid through the Chief Registrar of the court.
He argued that doing so would be at variance with the judgement of both the High Court and the Supreme Court, which ordered direct payment to Ogoni communities.
Furthermore he contends that over three billion Naira has accrued as interest over the N45 billion since the judgement was given.
In his ruling, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of Federal High Court Abuja faulted Shell’s decision to pay the money through the court’s Chief Registrar, stressing that such action would amount to reversal of the extant verdict of the apex court.
The Federal High Court subsequently ordered 21 days for the enforcement of the payment agreement for the sum of N45 billion by Shell to communities affected by the oil spill.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed directed Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Ltd to pay the sum of N45, 969,534,414.1 to the communities through their solicitor and partners’ account of Lucius E. Nwosu and others “details of which would be supplied to the plaintiffs and defendants solicitors.”
The order followed the community’s filing of an “Affidavit of Facts/Acceptance of Settlement Sum and Variation of Payment Instructions” on 6th August 2021.
The Supreme Court had in 2001 ordered the oil giant to pay the compensation to spillage victims in Nchia in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State following a suit by Isaac Osaro Agbara.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed noted that the Supreme Court did not a direct payment to a third party, adding that it would amount to varying the judgment of the apex court to grant the application.
“This court has a duty to enforce the judgment of the Supreme Court under Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution,” he said.
But different appeals and suits both in Nigeria and the UK frustrated the compliance with the judgment sum, which counsel to the community, Lucius Nwosu (SAN) further submitted that the accruing interest for 31 years has reached N182 billion.