This is coming on the heels of the loss a case it instituted against the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Federal High Court, Abuja praying to stop the payment
Justice A.R. Mohammed who presided over the matter between SPDC vs Senate and others threw out the case on technical ground, while it asked the oil giant to pay the sum of N6.9 billion to the host communities, according to the proceeding monitored in Abuja
The lead defense Counsel, Barrister Chibuzor Obiajunwa of the House of Law Attorneys, while reacting to the judgment frowned at the multinational oil company getting itself involved in discriminatory payments on rented lands to the people of Niger Delta.
The lawyer revealed that Shell Petroleum was paying the sum of N600,000 to some communities while it at the same time paying others the sum of N200,000, discrimination, he said, the host communities petitioned the National Assembly
Obiajunwa, an intellectual property expert, human rights and an intellectual property expert in an interview gave details as: “In the year 2017 some communities in the Niger Delta, like Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers and other States, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was involved in discriminatory payment to host communities at N600,000 and N200,000 per hectare for uses of their surface right.
“When the people of the affected communities discovered the discrepancies, they approached some agents to compel Shell Petroleum Development Company to stop the discrimination because of its dangerous implication. But when the agents approached Shell to harmonise payments to host communities through written letters and meetings, they proved difficult.
“These agents thereafter approached the National Assembly to look into the enabling laws that empowered Shell to operate in Nigeria and to have a wholistic view inform of amending the laws.
“Then, it was a general petition which was submitted to the National Assembly through Senator Mathew Uroghide representing Edo North Senatorial District and was referred to Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges, who across the period conducted investigative hearings to hear from all the parties to the dispute to find out what was actually the bone of contention.
“At the end of the day, the Committee submitted its report to the plenary disclosing that Shell Petroleum was actually doing discriminatory payments and the Senate tried to make sure Shell resolved peacefully with the host communities so that they need not give a resolution against Shell.
“But the SPDC was not mindful of utilising the opportunity given to them.
“So at the Senate plenary resolutions were passed in 2018, compelling Shell to do the needful. They cannot afford to pay different amounts to different people.
“So, when the resolution was passed, Shell declined compliance and when the matter was ongoing, the host communities did a demonstration at the National Assembly in 2018 and the National Assembly had to fast track the matter and get the end of it.
“Instead of compliance, despite the fact that the Clerk wrote them over the resolution; the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation wrote them over the matter; they went to Court and that matter was struck out on 17th of June 2021. Therefore, Shell has no excuse to refuse compliance anymore.
“The amount involved is N6.9 billion and because they have wasted time, the amount is still climbing since it has to do with arrears and also rentals. Since the Senate’s decision which Shell declined, arrears have cropped and other payments are climbing.
“Shell’s lawyers have been appearing at every Court sittings and the matter was hard fought and at the end of the day, the Court declared the matter incompetent because they didn’t give the National Assrmbly three months before they rushed to Court.
“That is part of what we are saying. Instead of compliance with what the National Assembly said, they rushed to Court. The way they rushed to Court was the way the Court chase them out.
Asked if the Court having struck out their case was fair, the legal practitioner stressed that the temple of justice and the legislature were too lenient while he accused the multinational oil of attempt to knock the three arms of government together.
He said further: “In my opinion, both the National Assembly, the host Communities and the Court have been fair to Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited.
“The host communities gave them too much insulgence and the National Assembly too and that’s why there was protest.
“Shell Petroleum Development should stop subverting the Federal Republic of Nigeria because going to Court to challenge the Senate resolution and challenging the Solicitor General of the Federation is subversive of the nation they are carrying out their businesses.
“Shell is trying to knock the heads of the executive, the legislature and the Parliament together, something they can’t do in their country. They should stop doing that and allow the rule of law to take its course in Nigeria.
“I also thank the people of Niger Delta for having the fortitude to follow due process without recourse to taking laws into their hands despite attempts by SPDC to frustrate them.
“Because of the long delay at the National Assembly they would have been frustrated, but they rather demonstrated to show their feelings.
“When the SPDC went to Court to challenge the resolution of the Senate, SPDC went behind the host communities and didn’t join them in the suit. The case was Senate vs Senate President without the host communities, it took a lot of courage and astuteness for the people of Niger Delta to discover that there was a auit like that and they join themselves as 3rd and 4th defendants.
“As defense Counsel, I feel fulfilled having the judgement struck out in our favour and I will continue to make changes to the ugly situation in Niger Delta.”