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 Supreme Court affirms Rivers’ purchase of OML 11, Kidney Island

Supreme Court affirms Rivers’ purchase of OML 11, Kidney Island


The Supreme Court has affirmed Rivers State government’s acquisition of 45 percent equity stake of Shell Petroleum Development Company in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 and Kidney Island in Port Harcourt.

Supreme Court affirmed this yesterday, when it dismissed the multinational oil firm’s suit which sought the setting aside of the N17 billion judgement made against it in 2019.

It wouldl be recalled that the Supreme Court had in January, 2019, upheld the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which awarded N17 billion damages against Shell for a devastating oil spill that ravaged farmlands, rivers and streams in Ejama-Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of the State decades ago.

Shell had in July 2019, filed a suit at the apex court to set aside its earlier judgement on the ground that the Supreme Court did not go into the merit of their appeal before upholding the decision of the Court of Appeal.

But, the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgement prepared by Justice Centus Nweze and delivered by Justice Samuel Oseji, asserted that the appeal filed by Shell was frivolous and lacked merit.

Justice Oseji declared that the Supreme Court could not revisit its earlier decision on the matter. To this end, the court dismissed Shell’s appeal for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

In addition, the Supreme Court held that parties were to bear the cost of their litigation.

Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, had in September last year, announced the acquisition of Shell’s 45 percent interest in OML 11 oilfields and Kidney Island in the State.

The governor, had directed the State Ministry of Finance Incorporated to make a bid of USD 150,000,0900.00 supported by a Bank Guarantee and cash payment to the Deputy Sheriff in the sum of N1 billion, the later payable to the Judgement Creditors while the former is escrowed.

The Ejama community had filed a suit against Shell over un-remedied pollution that took place since 1970 as admitted by SPDC vide letters they wrote seeking to clean the spill in 2006 while the case was at the trial court.

The suit between Shell and Ejama-Ebubu community was finally disposed in 2017. But, Shell and its parent companies took out a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2017, which appeal was considered and dismissed by that Court in a judgement read by Justice B. Akaahs.

After losing at the High Court, Shell gave the successful Ejama Ebubu Plaintiffs a Bond Guarantee stipulating that First Bank of Nigerian Limited would pay them the value of the judgment debt and interests thereon in the event that SPDC’s appeal to the Court of Appeal fails at that Court.

Having lost the matter at the Court of Appeal, the Ejama Ebubu community commenced enforcement by domiciling the judgement in the State High Court and levying execution on SPDC moveables in their Industrial Area in Port Harcourt.

Shell, had invited the community and offered them N7 billion as against the judgement debt of N194 billion, which the community refused to accept. Afterwards, the community approached the court for an order granting them leave to sell SPDC’s immovable property comprised in OML 11 and their kidney Island support base in Port Harcourt.

It was on this basis, that the Rivers State government placed advertisement of the said immovable assets for auction after the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers alerted the government of the state of the matter.

Governor Wike had said that rather than standby and watch other persons or group purchase Shell’s 45 percent interest in OML 11 and further exacerbate the poverty of the people of the State, the State Government had to weigh in and bid for the purchase of SPDC interest already set down for auction.

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