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N17bn judgement: Rivers’ communities ask Supreme Court to refuse Shell’s request

The Supreme Court was yesterday asked to reject a request by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited to review and set aside a N17 billion judgment entered against it in 2019.

 

The Supreme Court had on 11th January, 2019 upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal which had slammed a whopping N17 billion damages against Shell for oil spillage in Ejama-Ebubu in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, Shell International Petroleum Co. Ltd and Shell International Exploration and Production who are appellants/ applicants had, however, through their team of counsel, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) sought to set aside the judgement.

 

Opposing the application, the respondents, Chief Isaac Agbara and nine others through their lead counsel, Chief Lucius Nwosu (SAN), described Shell’s request as scandalous and an affront to the finality of the Supreme Court. Nwosu, while urging the court to dismiss Shell’s application for lacking in merit, submitted that the Supreme Court would not sit on appeal in its own judgment.

 

He further argued that the action of the oil giant was a deliberate abuse of court process with a weighty request based on 23 grounds. Nwosu further contended that the Supreme Court by its unanimous judgment of January 11 last year had put an end to the over 30 years old legal tussle on the oil spillage suffered by the respondents and their people in the oil producing region.

 

Nwosu, however, drew the attention of the apex court panel to a letter of the Supreme Court in which the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, while reacting to a clarification to the January 11, 2019 judgment, made it clear that the appeal by Shell Petroleum had become spent.

 

He further informed the court that the judgment being sought to be set aside by the oil company had already been partly executed with over N1 billion recovered by the respondents, adding that section 235 of the 1999 Constitution makes the Supreme Court a final court in the land and that no appeal can be entertained from the Supreme Court decision.

 

He, therefore, pleaded with the apex court to reject the invitation by Shell to make the court sit as an appellate court in its own judgment so as not to make the court eat its words.

 

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