By Lukman Olabiyi
Justice Weli Chechey of the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, has set aside March 23 and 24 for hearing of applications by parties ìn the N50 billion suit filed against the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
The suit was filed by a couple and employees of Shell, Emeka and Stella Okoli.
The clamants were seeking damages for medical negligence by doctors working ìn Shell Hospital in Port Harcourt during an appendectomy operation on their child, Chinazam.
Chinazam, is the only son of the claimants suffered brain damage and remained incapacitated, confined to a wheelchair following the alleged negligent surgical procedure by the Shell hospital and its doctors.
Those sued alongside Shell as second and third defendants are Dr. Alexander Dimoko and Dr. Dafe Akpoduado, who performed the appendectomy surgery on Chinazam in September, 2016.
During resumed proceedings, thẹ defendants through their lawyers Cyriacus Orlu for Shell and Michael Amadi, 2nd and 3rd defendants, informed thẹ court of their pending applications objecting to thẹ suit of thẹ claimants.
They told thẹ court that their separate applications were predicated on an argument that the writ of summons used in commencing the action by thẹ claimants was incompetent.
They said the writ was not in line with Sections 97 and 98 of the Rules of Sheriff and Civil Processes Act and that the suit should be dismissed.
Responding, counsel to thẹ claimants’ Prof. Akin Ibidapo-Obe, told the court to discountenounced the applications by the defence.
Prof. Ibidapo-Obe told the trial Judge, Justice Chechey, that he has filed fresh applications seeking to amend the writ of summons and to increase the damages to N60bn.
He urged the court to dismiss thẹ claimants’ submission as baseless applications.
Prof Ibidapo-Obe insisted that he already raised a motion to amend the writ of summons and asked the court to be guided on the priority of hearing the applications.
He submitted that the defendants could not depend on the Sherriff Act to declare a writ incompetent.
He said: “When Sections 97 and 98 are read in conjunction with the rules of the court, the court will see that there is no basis for the preliminary objections, and it is not for the other party to render any writ incompetent”.
Justice Chechey, who allowed the parties to present brief arguments, however, observed that Amadi, counsel to the second and third defendants did not include a physical address in his applications to enable timely service of the writ by the bailiff.
“Look at your process and tell me the physical address. Where is the physical address?” the judged queried Amadi and compelled him to admit that his claims were not qualified for a physical address.
He also told thẹ defence to consolidated their applications before the next adjourned date.
Justice Chechey adjourned the matter to March 27 and 28 to enable parties reassess their positions and prepare to argue their applications.