Shell Petroleum Development Company, the Nigerian operations of oil supermajor, Royal Dutch Shell, Friday had its request to revisit a verdict of 11th January 2019, directing to pay N17 billion to a number of communities in Ogoni Rivers State that were degraded by an oil spill action that occurred half a century back, struck out.
Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour led a panel of five, which returned a unanimous verdict dismissing Shell’s application, following the validation of the preliminary objection of the communities’ legal representatives.
Supreme Court Judge Chukwudumebi Oseji, not among the five, read the ruling drafted by Justice Centus Nweze.
The legal tussle, which had run for 31 years came to a turning point when the apex court issued the N17 billion in favour of Ejama-Ebudu in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, represented by community leader Isaac Agbara and nine other persons.
The judgement amount, together with the accumulated interests for 32 years added up to N182 billion, said Lucius Nwosu, counsel to the host communities.
Nwosu not only sought the dismissal of Shell’s application from the court at the September hearing, which culminated in Friday’s judgment, but also prayed the panel to issue an order against every senior lawyer in the energy firm’s legal team as “deterrence” for the filing of the judgement review request, claimed by him to be an affront on the finality and integrity of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Luminaries including Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Kanu Agabi (SAN) – both former attorney generals of the federation and ministers of justice – Wole Olanipekun (SAN), one-time president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Wale Babalakin (SAN) and Wale Akoni (SAN) made up the Shell legal team.
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