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Rivers communities file contempt charges against Emefiele over oil spillage

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The representatives of Ogoni communities in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State have instituted contempt charges against the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, over his alleged failure to comply with N17bn judgment affirmed by the Supreme Court judgment.

The applicants represented by Lucious Nwosu, SAN, filed the contempt suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja praying that Emefiele be imprisoned for failing to order the payment of the monetary award affirmed by the Supreme Court in its judgment.

They contended that the N17bn value of the judgment increase had in value to about N182bn due interests accrued on it for over 30 years.

The judgment sought to be enforced was delivered against an oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company over an oil spillage caused by the company over three decades ago.

The Supreme Court on January 11, 2019 affirmed the award.

Shell, this year, approached the apex court to review its judgment.

But a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, in a unanimous judgment delivered on November 27, 2020, dismissed the company’s application for a review of the judgment after upholding the preliminary objection filed by the communities’ legal team.

The beneficiary communities filed a contempt application before the Federal High Court in Abuja, praying that Emefiele be imprisoned for his failure to order the payment of the award.

At the Wednesday’s hearing, the communities’ counsel, Nwosu, expressed displeasure over the absence of the CBN Governor in court.

But Emefiele’s lawyer, Damian Dodo, SAN, said his client’s absence should not be seen as underrating the court, assuring that the CBN Governor would do the needful at the appropriate time.

On his part, Shell’s lawyer, Olawale Akoni, SAN, informed the court that he had filed a motion praying the court to dismiss the contempt charge or in the alternative to stay proceedings.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo adjourned the matter till January 26.

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