The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court in Yenagoa to hear a N700 billion oil spill compensation suit filed by members of Aghoro 1 community in Bayelsa.
The people of Aghoro 1 in Ekeremor Local Government Area (LGA) in Bayelsa dragged SPDC to the Federal High Court Yenagoa over a May 17, 2018 oil leak from the oil firm’s Trans Ramos Pipeline.
When the suit came up for hearing, Counsel to SPDC, Mr. Michael Amadi told the court that the oil firm is challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case at the Court of Appeal.
He further urged the court to hands off the case pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal as demanded by the hierarchy of courts since the Court of Appeal was already adjudicating the SPDC’s appeal.
However, trial judge Isa Justice Isa Dashen noted that although the records as claimed by the defendant’s counsel was before the court, he was yet to go through them to be abreast of developments on the case.
He said that he was entitled to go through the court processes and records of the Court of Appeal before staying proceedings on the matter.
He adjourned until Oct 19 to enable him go through the processes filed before the court, adding that he would await the decision of the appellate court as the rules demand.
The plaintiffs are Mr. Victor Akamu, Pastor Erebimienkumor Goddey, Mrs. Jane Alex, Miss Edith George, Mr. Israel Tomonye and FASF Associates Ltd on behalf of Aghoro 1 community at Ekeremor LGA, Bayelsa.
They are seeking redress for the damages caused by the oil spill and are claiming that the N33.49 million offered by SPDC was a far cry from the N700 billion claim based on impacted area damage assessment.
Listed as defendants in the suit are, Shell Petroleum Development Company, Shell International Exploration and Production BV, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.