$2.7bn Shell suit: Court fixes March 2 for ruling


Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe

The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 2, 2021, for ruling to decide whether to hear a motion challenging its jurisdiction or contempt application filed against three banks for allegedly disobeying a court order to block Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd’s bank accounts.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo fixed the date after the parties argued which application to be heard first.

The judge had made the Mareva order on January 25 following the plaintiff; AITEO Eastern E and P Company Ltd’s ex parte application in suit no FHC/L/CS/52/202 seeking to recover the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted by the SPDC from AITEO.

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Justice Oguntoyinbo directed 20 banks to “ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7bn 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.”

The Chief Registrar was 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.

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At the Wednesday proceedings, AITEO, through its counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), informed the court that it had a motion for interlocutory injunction and committal proceedings applications.

The banks and their officials are Citi Bank Ltd, its Company Secretary, Sola Fagbure and Chief Financial Officer, Sharaf Mohammed; United Bank For Africa Plc, its Company Secretary, Bill Odum and Chief Financial Officer, Ebenezer Kolawole.

The banks’ counsel, Olawale Akoni (SAN), also informed the court of two applications before it where one was a motion on notice dated February 1, 2021, while the second application challenging the contempt proceedings was dated February 21, 2021.

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Akoni prayed the court to hear his motion to discharge the Mareva order first.

Adjourning the matter for ruling on March 2 for which application to be heard first, Justice Oguntoyinbo noted that the Mareva order subsisted.

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