Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has made a garnishee order instructing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay the people of Ejama Community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State the sum of N182.7 billion.
Lawyers to Ejama community said they have since served the CBN the garnishee order absolute as the amount is to be deducted from the account of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. in the custody of the CBN.
The amount represents the punitive measures slammed on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited for devastating the community and its environs and ecosystem with oil spillage sequel to a similar one made by Justice Ibrahim Buba on June 3, 2019 while delivering judgement in a suit brought before him by the representatives of Ejama community, who have been in a long legal battle with Shell.
The case, which started in 1991, was originally instituted at the Rivers State High Court, Nchia Division, by six indigenes of Ogoniland against the Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, United Kingdom, and SPDC over alleged oil spills that occurred when Shell operated in the community.
The State High Court eventually entered judgement in their favour against Shell, whereupon the defendant appealed against the said judgement.
However, in 2001, a fresh suit was commenced by some representatives of the Ogoni people before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba claiming N17 billion and interests on the said sum for the losses allegedly caused by the oil spills.
Buba, after listening to the submissions of the parties in the suit, in his judgement in 2010, awarded N17 billion to the representatives of the Ogoni people and granted the Ogoni chiefs 25 per cent interest charge on the principal sum of about N17 billion. SPDC then appealed against the judgement and applied for a stay of execution of the judgement pending the appeal.
As a condition for granting the stay of execution, the court required Shell’s bankers, First Bank, to provide a guarantee of the judgement sum. This condition was complied with.
But Shell’s appeal failed at the Court of Appeal on technical grounds, ostensibly because it filed its processes out of time and without regularising them and then proceeded to the Supreme Court, which last year, dismissed their appeal.
It was following the dismissal of the their appeal by the apex court that the Ogoni chiefs resumed the garnishee proceedings which they have now won.