From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
An Abuja Upper Area Court on Wednesday ordered a substituted service of criminal summons on seven executives of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited, following the inability of the court bailiff to serve them with a criminal summons.
The order was made following an application by counsel to the complainant in the action instituted by the African Initiative Against Abuse of Public Trust informing the court that while the Bailiff of the court had effectively served the company sued as the 1st defendant, the other seven defendants who are all top executives of Shell were nowhere to be found to be served personally.
Accordingly, Judge Gambo Garba of the Abuja Upper Area Court sitting in Zuba granted the application for substituted service on them in line with Section 124 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, by pasting at their office.
The executives are Captain Callum Finlayson, Chibueze Uduanochie, Simon Ruddy, Bashir Bello, Osagie Okunbor, Igo Weli and Toyin Olagunyi.
Shell and the seven defendants were summoned by the court following a direct criminal complaint filed by Obed Agu pursuant to section 88 and 89 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The complainant had alleged that by the use of an unapproved metering system, Shell had wrongfully converted and unlawfully appropriated over 16 million barrels of crude oil belonging to some Indigenous Oil Companies, though Shell admits it was just about 2 million barrels. The NGO complained to the court seeking imprisonment of the officials for acts of Conspiracy, Theft and Cheating. The offences jointly carry a maximum of over ten years in prison if convicted.
Meanwhile, counsel to the complainant, Chibuzor Ezike, said if by March 23, the Shell executives do not appear after the pasting of the summons at their office, he would have no other option than to apply for a bench warrant against the defendants so that the police can arrest them and bring them to court.