The Supreme Court has dismissed an application by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), asking it to review its judgment of Jan. 11, 2019 that ordered Shell to pay N17 billion to Ogoni communities in Rivers.
The communities were affected by an oil spill caused by the oil company in 1970.
This is coming as Shell insisted that the claimants had at their own admission in court – materially miscalculated and overstated the value of the award previously sought in this case.
A five-member panel of justices dismissed the application on the grounds that it had no merit since the court had taken a decision on the appeal and the court could not reverse itself.
The judgment prepared by Justice Centus Nweze and read by Justice Chukwudumebi Oseji on Friday in Abuja, held that the the application had no merit.
The Supreme Court had issued the N17 billion order in favour of Ejama-Ebubu in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers.
Counsel to the communities, Mr Lucius Nwosu told newsmen that the judgment sum, with interest accrued over the past 31 years was about N182 billion.
Nwosu had in September, at the hearing of the application, prayed the apex court to not only dismiss the application, but to also punish all the senior lawyers in Shell’s legal team for the filing the judgment review application.
Nwosu said that the application was an attempt to ridicule the integrity and finality of the decisions of the apex court.
He further argued that the fresh appeal by Shell, which was filed seven months after the initial appeal was dismissed, was a calculated attempt to move the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final judgement.
Nwosu also told the apex court that the same Shell that was reluctant to pay damages to Nigerian victims of its oil spillage had in similar situations paid over 206 million dollars to victims in Mexico.
He said the previous litigation lasted over 30 years before the N17billion damages was awarded against Shell by the Court of Appeal.
One of the parties in the suit, a community leader, King George Osaro told newsmen that people of his community were overwhelmed with joy that the matter would finally be put to rest.
“We are really overwhelmed by the decision of the Supreme Court today because this will bring this whole Shell drama to an end.
“We feel vindicated from all the suffering the company has put us through. We advice Shell to retrace it’s steps and do what is right.”
Reacting to the judgement, SPDC in a statement said “This spill was caused by third parties during the Nigerian Civil War, a challenging period which resulted in significant damage to oil and gas infrastructure in the region. While SPDC does not accept responsibility for these spills, the affected sites in the Ebubu community were fully remediated.
“The claimants have – at their own admission in court – materially miscalculated and overstated the value of the award previously sought in this case. The ruling of the Supreme Court did not decide liability or the size of the award, which remain in dispute in other ongoing court proceedings. It is our position that any attempt to enforce payment should not be permitted. It is regrettable that the legal process in this case has focused for so long on procedural issues and not the merits of the case. We have always maintained that we are ready to defend this case based on the available facts.”