At last, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has agreed to pay N45.9 billion awarded to the Ogoni people of Rivers State as compensation for oil spills in their communities.
The counsel to Shell, A.O Ejelamo, said the oil giant had resolved to pay the monetary compensation which was awarded in 2010. At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, 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, the court said the amount should be paid to the aggrieved people of Ogoni through their lawyer. The matter was heard by Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
In 2001, 10 representatives of the Ogoni people instituted the suit against the oil company for the losses allegedly caused by the oil spills. Justice Ibrahim Buba, who was 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 also granted the Ogoni chiefs a 25 per cent interest charge on the principal sum of about N17 billion. Shell, however, appealed the judgment up to the Supreme Court and lost. In 2020, the company approached the apex court seeking a review of the judgment debt.
But in a ruling in November 2020, the five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Olabode Rhodes- Vivour, a retired justice of the apex court, dismissed Shell’s application, saying it lacked merit. The lead counsel to the Ogoni communities, Lucius Nwosu, had said the judgment sum, with the accrued interests, stood at N182 billion.