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.