The Federal High Court in Yenagoa on Monday, February 14, 2022, adjourned until March 22, hearing in a N 700 billion oil spill compensation suit filed by members of Aghoro I community in Bayelsa State.
The people of Aghoro I in Ekeremor Local Government Area (LGA) in Bayelsa sued Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over a May 17, 2018 oil leak from the oil firm’s Trans Ramos Pipeline.
When the suit came up for hearing of pending motions, Counsel to SPDC , Mr Yusuph Mustapha, SAN, informed the court that he filed another motion challenging the jurisdiction to hear the case because it was statute barred.
He further said that he was also seeking the relief of the court to approach the Court of Appeal to interprete the statutes as it concerns one of the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs
Counsel to the plaintiffs Mr Mohammed Mohammed, SAN, told the presiding judge, Justice Isa Ndahen that he was to argue against the motion brought by the defence without an address as it was merely a ploy to delay justice.
Mohammed noted that it was strange and a breach of procedure for a party to seek leave of a trial court to approach the appellate court on a motion which he described as an attempt to buy time and frustrate the plaintiffs.
Justice Isa Ndahen urged counsel to parties in the case to file their responses to the new motion, in a formal wah to enable him rule on them by the next adjourned date.
The pantiffs are Mr Victor Akamu, Pastor Erebimienkumor Goddey, Mrs Jane Alex, Miss Edith George, Mr Isreal To money and FASF Associates Ltd on behalf of Aghoro 1 community at Ekeremor LGA, Bayelsa.
They are seeking redress for the damages cause by the oil spill and are claiming that the N33.49 million offered by SPDC was a far cry from the N700 billion claim based on impacted area damage assessment.
Listed as defendants in the suit are Shell Petroleum Development Company, Shell International Exploration and Production BV, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
By Nathan Nwakamma