N800bn Judgement Against Shell: Supreme Court Decides Tomorrow

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Nigeria will,  tomorrow ( Friday December 2, 2022)  deliver judgment on the claim by the Egbalor Community in Eleme LGA, Rivers State against Shell Nigeria and its parent companies for a devastating oil spill which occurred in their community in 2018. The Nigerian Supreme Court is expected to deliver a judgment on a pending application by the Counsel to Egbalor Community, Mohammed Ndarani Mohammed SAN, challenging the validity of Shell’s appeal against an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeal Owerri which directed Shell Petroleum and its parent companies to deposit the entire judgment debt of N800 billion (approx. $1.9 billion) into court as a condition for stay of execution of the judgment within 48 hours of the order of Court. The Court also granted a Mareva injunction restraining Shell Nigeria and its parent companies from selling or disposing of any of its onshore and offshore assets in Nigeria until they fully comply with the Court’s order.

When Shell Petroleum failed to comply with the said order, Counsel to the Egbalor Community, Mohammed  applied for committal proceedings against the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria and Country Chairman, Mr. Osagie Okunbor and other key directors of the company, which the Court of Appeal Owerri granted, ordering the respondent contemnors to show cause why they should not be committed to prison for contempt of Court. The Counsel to Shell Petroleum, T.J.O. Onomigbo-Okpoko SAN appealed to the Supreme Court challenging the committal proceedings in the Court of Appeal Owerri.

In a swift move, Mohammed , counsel to the Egbalor Community challenged the validity of Shell’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the grounds that Shell did not seek and obtain the leave of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal Owerri Division before filing their appeal, as required by law. If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the Egbalor Community, then the subsisting order of the Court of Appeal Owerri Division ordering Shell Nigeria and its parent companies to deposit the entire judgment sum of N800 billion into Court within 48 hours of the order becomes immediately enforceable. Such a development will have a significant effect on Shell’s business globally and negatively impact the value of its shares on the London and New York Stock Exchanges, in addition to other consequences.

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(Thisday)

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