Bank’s Assets Targeted Over Shell’s $479 Million Nigerian Debt

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Nigerian authorities moved to grab the property of one of many nation’s largest banks to recoup damages owed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc to a area people following a decades-long dispute.

Federal court docket officers and police visited First Financial institution of Nigeria Ltd.’s foremost department within the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt on Jan. 12 to implement an order to confiscate its property, Nigeria’s third-biggest lender stated Wednesday in an emailed assertion. The motion, which resulted in unspecified properties being taken, was “unjustified, unlawful and a reckless misuse of the equipment of justice,” it stated.

The intervention stems from First Financial institution’s determination to ensure damages a decide ordered Shell to pay 10 years in the past which, with curiosity accrued, a Nigerian court docket stated final yr are ca greater than 183 billion naira ($479 million). A spokesman for Shell didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Shell is concerned in a long-running authorized battle with the Ejama-Ebubu group, which in 2010 efficiently sued the corporate for tens of millions of {dollars} in damages for polluting its land. The group has defeated a number of appeals filed by Shell, most not too long ago on the Supreme Court docket in November.

READ: Shell Oil Website Seized by Nigerian State Over Unpaid Damages

Eight years in the past, at Shell’s request, First Financial institution supplied a assure to the group for the unique 17 billion-naira award. Shell contests the group’s valuation of the scale of the debt.

The Supreme Court docket verdict final yr means the “coast is obvious for enforcement of the judgment of 2010,” Lucius Nwosu, a lawyer for the group, stated by telephone on Jan. 13. “First Financial institution is not going to honor their assure as a result of they, at their very own peril, did not get a money backing from Shell earlier than they issued the assure.”

The seizure ignored an interim court docket ruling obtained by Shell in December that restrains First Financial institution from paying out any cash towards the judgment debt and prevents the group from taking steps to compel the financial institution to take action, in line with the financial institution’s assertion. First Financial institution has filed its personal pending movement looking for to cancel the choice allowing the confiscation of its property, it stated.

Neither of these circumstances can take priority over the Supreme Court docket, in line with Nwosu. The group desires property belonging to Shell and First Financial institution to be confiscated and bought to assist settle the judgment debt.

The origin of the group’s grievance in opposition to Shell is a rupture in one of many agency’s pipelines 50 years in the past. Shell doesn’t settle for accountability for the spill, which it blames on “third events” throughout Nigeria’s civil struggle that lasted from 1967 to 1970, and says the affected websites have been cleaned up.

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