The Supreme Court has been urged to reject request by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited to review and set aside a N17 billion judgement entered against it last year.
In January 2019, the apex court upheld the judgement of the Court of Appeal which had slammed a whopping N17 billion damages against the oil giant for oil spillage in Ejama-Ebubu in Tai Eleme local government area of Rivers State.
The plea is contained in a preliminary objection filed by Chief Isaac Agbara and nine others to the application by Shell asking the apex court to set aside its earlier judgement in the matter.
The respondents arguing the preliminary objection yesterday, through their lead counsel, Chief Lucius Nwosu, SAN, described Shell’s request as scandalous and an affront to the finality of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Nwosu while urging the court to dismiss Shell’s application for being incompetent, submitted that the Supreme Court cannot sit on appeal in its own judgement.
The senior lawyer further argued that the action of the oil giant was a deliberate abuse of court process with a weighty request based on 23 grounds.
Nwosu further contended that the Supreme Court by its unanimous judgement of January 11 last year put an end to the over 30 years old legal tussle on the oil spillage suffered by the respondents and their people in the oil producing region.
Nwosu drew the attention of the apex court panel to a letter of the Supreme Court in which the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, while reacting to a clarification to the January 11, 2019 judgement, made it clear that the appeal by Shell Petroleum had become spent.
He further informed the court that the judgement being sought to be set aside by the oil company had already been partly executed with over N1 billion recovered by the respondents, adding that section 235 of the 1999 Constitution makes the Supreme Court a final court in the land and that no appeal can be entertained from the Supreme Court decision.
He therefore pleaded with the apex court to reject the invitation by Shell company to make the court sit as an appellate court in its own judgement so as not to make the court eat its words.
The senior lawyer noted that the same shell, who is reluctant to pay damages to Nigerian victims of its oil spillage had in similar situations paid over $206 million to victims in Mexico.
But Shell Petroleum company through its team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, described the opposition of the respondents as frivolous because it has no bearing with jurisdictional issue.