By Adewale Sanyaolu and Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has concluded plans to pay N45.9 billion as compensation to the people of Ogoni in Rivers State as compensation for oil spills in their communities which occurred in 2010
Lawyer to Shell, A. O Ejelamo, while addressing Ahmed Mohammed, Judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja, said the company has resolved to pay the monetary compensation awarded in 2010.
But a spokesperson for The SPDC in response to Daily Sun inquiry said: ‘‘The order for the payment of N45.9 billion to the claimants is for full and final satisfaction of the judgement in the suit, Chief Agbara and Others v. SPDC, in respect of the spills which we maintain were caused by third parties during the Nigerian Civil War, a challenging period which resulted in significant damage to oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. While the SPDC Joint Venture does not accept responsibility or liability for these spills, the affected sites in the Ebubu community were fully remediated.’’
In 2001, 10 representatives of the Ogoni people instituted the suit against the oil company for the losses allegedly caused by the oil spills.
Ibrahim Buba, then of Port-Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court, in June 2010, gave judgment in favour of the Ogoni people awarding N17 billion as compensation.
The court equally granted the Ogoni chiefs a 25-percent interest charge on the principal sum of about N17 billion.
SPDC appealed against the judgment up to the Supreme Court – it lost.
In 2020, the company had also approached the apex court seeking a review of the judgment debt.
But while delivering a ruling in November 2020, the five-member panel, led by Olabode Rhodes- Vivour, a former justice of the Supreme Court, unanimously dismissed Shell’s application, saying it lacked merit.
Lucius Nwosu, lead counsel to the Ogoni communities had noted that the judgement sum, with the accrued interests, stood at about N182 billion.
At the resumed court session on Wednesday, Ejelamo sought the court’s permission to pay the debt through the chief registrar of the court in a bank account to be opened for the purpose.
However, it was eventually agreed that the amount is paid to the aggrieved people through their lawyer.
It was learnt that the Ogonis waived the interest on the principal amount as concession agreed upon during reconciliation.