The Shell Petroleum Development Company has challenged the committal order of a High Court of Rivers State Tuesentencing the company’s Managing Director, Osagie Okunbor, and two other senior officers of the company to prison for three months for disobeying a court order.
“We do not accept that SPDC has disobeyed any lawful court order and we have accordingly appealed this judgement,” the company’s spokesperson, Bamidele Odugbesan, said in a statement adding: “SPDC has utmost respect for the courts and the laws of Nigeria.”
According to Shell some members of Bonny Community in Rivers State had asked the court, presided over by Justice George Omeriji, to commit the SPDC officers to prison for disobeying a High Court order of 2008 asking the company to forfeit the land where one of Nigeria’s biggest oil terminals, Bonny Oil Terminal, is located.
“We have appealed against the order and applied to suspend its execution pending the outcome of the appeal,” the SPDC spokesperson said.
Odugbesan explained that the said 2008 judgment was settled between SPDC and the landlord families of the land in 2014.
“An amicable resolution and settlement agreement was signed by the parties in 2014 after which SPDC paid all the rents due on the land up to 2019,” he said.
He cited a paid public notice by the landlord families in the October 24, 2014 edition of the Guardian newspaper acknowledging the settlement with SPDC.The Bonny Oil Terminal is a critical national asset in which the Federal Government has 55 per cent interest.It receives crude oil from international and local oil companies through the Trans Niger Pipeline and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line for export.
It could be recalled that yesterday, Mr Osagie Okunbor, managing director of Shell Petroleum Development Company, and two others were sentenced to three months in prison with hard labour by a Port Harcourt High Court.
Others also sentenced to three months in prison with hard labour in contempt proceedings were Nike Oyinlola, Shell’s secretary and head of legal, and t Keibi Atemie, deputy country head of legal/managing counsel global litigation sub-Sahara Africa.
George Omeriji, presiding judge, had directed the Nigerian Police Force and other law enforcement to effect immediate arrest of the aforementioned Shell officials who were absent in court and send them to prison.
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