SDPC kicks as govt seals off Kidney Island
The N57.7bn judgement connection
Rivers State government and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) have disagreed on the ownership of the Oil Mining Licence (OML) 11 and the Kidney Island in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
While the Rivers government claims ownership of OML 11 and Kidney Island in Port Harcourt by enforc ing its 45 per cent equity stake in them after a court judgement in its favour SPDC maintained its ownership, stressing that the matter is before the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt.
Yesterday, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zaccheus Adangor sealed off Kidney Island in execution of the judgement of the Rivers State High Court.
According to Adangor, Kidney Island, which SPDC once used as its operational base in Port Harcourt, now belongs to the Rivers State Government pursuant to a certificate of purchase registered in the Lands Registry as No. 6 at page 6 in Vol. 46.
The certificate of purchase was issued by the order of the High Court of Rivers State on July 23, 2019 and September 25, 2019 following the purchase of the facility.
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court had, on November 2020, reaffirmed Rivers State Government acquisition of SPDC’s interest in OML 11 and Kidney Island when it dismissed the oil firm suit which sought to set aside the judgement made against it in 2019 in favour of Ejama- Ebubu community.
Adangor, who addressed journalists after sealing off Kidney Island in execution of the judgement of Rivers State High Court, said: “You will recall that sometime in 2017, the people of Ejama- Ebubu secured judgement against SPDC and its subsidiaries in the sum of N57.7 billion for the damages done to their environment arising from the oil spill from the Trans-Niger pipeline.
“After that judgement, Shell refused to pay the judgement sum and thereafter proceeded to levy execution by attaching the moveable properties of SPDC. But those were found to be grossly insufficient to settle the judgement sum.
“Subsequently, they (Ejama- Ebubu community) approached the court to seek the leave of the court to attach the immovable properties of SPDC and the court granted them that order. Following the granting of that order, there was a court order for sell-off of some of the properties of SPDC, including Kidney Island and the acquisition of Shell interest in OML 11.”
Adangor said after the court order, a public auction was held by the officers of the Rivers State Judiciary and the State Government bided successfully for the purchase of Kidney Island and Shell interest in OML 11. “So we are here to execute the judgement of the High Court of Rivers State and secure the enforcement of the interest acquired by the Rivers State Government,” the commissioner said.
The Attorney General stated that the Rivers State Government successfully executed the enforcement as Shell, in all fairness, did not resist the enforcement. “It was lawfully purchased through public auction ordered by the court pursuant to a court judgement, hence everything went in accordance with the due process of the law,” he said.
But SPDC dismissed the purported takeover of Kidney Island asset by the state government since the matter is still the subject of ongoing appeals at the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt.
A statement issued by Bamidele Odugbesan of Shell Corporate Affairs Department in Port Harcourt explained that “exercise of rights allegedly acquired through that process, including any attempt to take over or seal up the Kidney Island asset or other assets of the SPDC JV to satisfy claims in pending suits, is premature and prejudicial to the ongoing court proceedings, and, therefore, not recognized.”
Shell added that under the Nigerian Petroleum Act, “any acquisition or assignment of interests in a licence or lease would require the consent of the Minister of Petroleum. No such consent has been given in the case of the purported acquisition by the Rivers State Government.
“We remain of the view that until the pending appeals are heard and determined, any exercise of rights, including any attempt to take over or seal up SPDC JV assets by the Rivers State Government, is premature and unlawful.”