Illegal oil refinery destroyed by Joint Task Force at Nembe Creek in Niger Delta on March 22, 2013. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has threatened to shut down production in April for nine days in the entire Nembe Creek Truck Line (NCTL) to remove a number of bunkering points on pipelines vandalised by oil thieves in the region. "Whenever we observe a spill, or have a spill on our lines, we shut down production to depressurize and isolate the line, only then can we safely repare our lines because it is then safe to manipulate the line", said Jurgen Jonzen, SPDC corporate pipeline asset manager. Last year, 157 bunkering points were removed and 116 were leaking on the whole SPDC exploitation. Since 2009, SPDC has exprienced an upsurge in vandalisation of pipeline network by criminals causing severe environmental devastation of the region and forcing the company to lose 60 000 barrels daily this year. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Justice Abubakar Gumel of a Court of Appeal sitting in Port-Harcourt has ordered that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to pay N122 billon as damages to Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State for crude oil spillage. This followed his dismissal of Shell’s appeal for failure to file a competent brief of argument to support or proffer arguments in her suit.

The case in 2001 began with the Ejama-Ebubu chiefs dragging SPDC to court in suit FHC/PHC/CS/231/2001, demanding that the oil corporation pay them special and general damages of N15.4 billion, which was granted by the court.

However, SPDC went on to appeal the trial, filing 19 grounds of appeal seeking to set aside the judgment, with First Bank acting as a surety that the firm would pay the total amount of damages awarded as well as all interest accruable.

The oil firm’s appeal was based on its premise that it did not receive a fair hearing, a claim countered by the plaintiff’s lawyers, Lucius Nwosu (SAN). He claimed that Shell’s refusal to call witnesses at the trial was tantamount to admitting the claim of his clients.

After considering the arguments, Justice Gumel dismissed Shell’s appeal for failure to file competent brief or arguments to support or proffer arguments in it, stating that SPDC had neither asked for an extension or leave to amend their brief.

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