Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos, has ordered that accounts operated by oil major Shell be blocked pending the determination of a suit bothering on alleged under reporting of crude oil by indigenous oil firm Aiteo.
The court has also fixed February 24, for hearing of the suit filed by an indigenous oil firm, Aiteo against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
Justice Oguntoyinbo fixed the date after discharging some banks that have complied with its order in relation to the debt allegedly owed Aiteo by SDPC.
The court had sometimes in January while granting an ex-parte application filed by Aiteo’s counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro and Emeka Ozoani both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), in freezing SDPC’s account as well as ordering all banks in Nigeria, that has any money belonging to SDPC in their custody to file an affidavit showing how much the debtor creditor has with them.
The court specifically directed the 20 banks, joined in the suit, where the Shell companies operate accounts in Nigeria to “ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7 billion and pay all standing credits to the Shell companies up to the value into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court, who is to hold the funds in trust” pending the hearing of the motion and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed before it by Aiteo.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, in compliance with the order, Justice Oguntoyinbo discharged some banks for demonstrating that they have no relationship with SPDC.
Some of the banks discharged by the court include: Access, Heritage, Keystone, Providus, Stanbic IBTC and Sterling.
Upon discharge of the banks, Wale Akoni (SAN) told the court that his clients, GTB and Chattered Standard banks have filed affidavits showing the amount SPDC has with them.
He urged the court to discharge them in line with Order 26 rule12 of Federal High Court Procedure Rules. He said that even though, SDPC has accounts with the two banks, such accounts are not attached to the court order .
Corroborating Akoni’s submission, applicant’s counsel, Pinheiro (SAN) told the court that both GTB and Chartered Standard banks have filed affidavits showing that SPDC has some funds with them. He told the court further that unless the court makes a deeming order, the banks are not among those discharged.
Pinheiro also told the court that all parties in the suit have been duly served with all the additional applications filed.
The senior lawyer also told the court that Akoni (SAN) has also filed an application seeking to discharge the court order.
He further informed the judge that counsel to SPDC, Wale Atake (SAN) has filed an application seeking to stay the court proceedings and that he has received correspondence from Aluko/Oyebode law firm, representing 2nd-4th respondents but has not filed any processes except memorandum of appearance.