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Oil Spillage in Ogoni;Shell Agrees to Pay N45bn Compensation to Ogoni Communities



Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, of Nigeria Limited, told the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday that it would pay an N45 billion judgement debt levied against it for oil spillages that occurred in 1970 and harmed several Ogoni communities in Rivers State.

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The oil giant, through its lawyer, Afam Ejelam, informed the court that it had already reached out to the villages to finalize all payment mechanisms, in accordance with the High Court’s decision, which was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Lucius Nwosu, SAN, counsel for the Ogoni communities, brought the court’s attention to the fact that, contrary to the existing judgment, Shell insisted on lodging the money into the account of the Chief Registrar of the high court.

However, counsel to Ogoni communities, Mr. Lucius Nwosu, SAN, drew attention of the court to the fact that contrary to the subsisting judgement, Shell insisted on lodging the money into the account of the Chief Registrar of the high court.

Nwosu, who noted that the affected Ogoni communities secured victory after a legal tussle with the oil firm that spanned over 31 years, argued that it would be wrong for the judgement debt to be paid through the Chief Registrar of the court.

He asserted that any payment would be in contravention of both the high court and the Supreme Court’s rulings, which he claimed ordered direct payment to Ogoni villages.

Furthermore, Nwosu said that, in addition to the N45 billion he claimed Shell calculated, interest on the judgment debt had topped N3 billion.

In his judgement, Justice Ahmed Mohammed criticized Shell’s decision to pay the money through the court’s Chief Registrar, stating that such conduct would amount to a reversal of the supreme court’s existing verdict.

In the absence of any legal challenges to the judgment, Justice Mohammed ruled that the funds should be paid immediately to the affected Ogoni communities.

On the issue of the accrued interest, Justice Mohammed held that it was not contained in any affidavit before the court.

He, therefore, dismissed request to compel Shell to pay the judgement debt with interest.