The tussle over where the legal battle between Nigerians and Royal Dutch Shell Plc continues to rear its head as thousands of Nigerians have requested the British courts to give them the permission to sue Shell in London for compensation over environmental damage caused by oil spillages in the Niger Delta region.
Lawyers who are representing residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta believe that last year’s landmark UK Supreme Court Judgement against a London-based miner should set a precedent. On the other hand, Shell, had blocked the suit on two different occasions, asking that the case should go on in Nigeria.
The Nigerians suffered a setback in the case in 2017, when a high court in London ruled that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be sued in London over the oil spills as against the attempts to hold the British multinational oil firm liable in UK for the actions of their subsidiaries abroad.
The 40,000 villagers from the Bille and Ogale communities in the oil-producing Niger Delta state, who were affected by pollution and sought to take action against Shell in London rather than its Nigerian subsidiary. The decades of oil spills have destroyed the livelihoods of these fishing and farming communities. The villagers argued that the Nigerian courts were unfit to hear their case as they may not get justice.
The UK judge in his ruling said that there is no connection between this jurisdiction and the claims brought by Nigerians for breaches or acts that were done in Nigeria by a Nigerian company.
While the two Niger Delta communities have been badly affected by the oil spills, a spokesperson of Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria, said that most of the oil spill are caused by oil theft, pipeline sabotage, and illegal refining.
However, Amnesty International in 2018 questioned the claims by Shell with respect to the cause of the oil spills as they believed that they likely understated the number of spills attributable to operational faults.
In an earlier hearing, the UK judge had said that he had not seen any evidence the Nigerian Judiciary was not taking concrete and effective steps to improve the speed at which the cases are being handled.
But the legal representative to the Nigerian communities, Leigh Day, said that there is no prospect of justice in Nigeria as impoverished Nigerians have minimal chance of success against these oil companies with deep pockets in the overburdened local courts.
Although two English courts had ruled that the two Niger Delta communities failed to show that Royal Dutch Shell had sufficient control over SPDC, the supreme court’s subsequent dismissal of Vedanta, a London-based miner’s bid to stop a trial in the UK, has given new hope to those Niger Delta communities.
However, the cases might be different as the lower courts had found Vedanta to be much more involved in its subsidiary’s operations than Shell’s parent company.
In a related development, an earlier report had disclosed that the clean-up of oil spills in the Ogoniland area in the Niger Delta region has witnessed lack of progress. An advocacy group including Amnesty International, had said that the progress has been poor and the little work that had been done is sub-standard
N40 billion Probe: Drama as Reps order arrest of Ag MD NDDC after walking out on them
Pondei walked out of the hearing after accusing Hon. Tunji-Ojo of corruption.
The corruption allegation drama going on between the National Assembly and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) took a new twist as acting Managing Director of the commission, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei and his team on Thursday, walked out on legislators investigating the alleged N40 billion irregular expenditure in the commission.
In a reaction to the development, the House of Representative Committee on NDDC, has issued a warrant of arrest on the acting Managing Director.
Pondei walked out of the investigative hearing on Thursday in Abuja, after accusing the Chairman of the House of Representative committee on NDDC, Olubumi Tunji-Ojo (APC-Ondo) of corruption.
According to the acting Managing Director, “We in the NDDC are not comfortable with the Chairman of this committee, presiding over the matter. He is an interested party and we do not believe that the NDDC can have justice because he cannot seat on his own case.”
“We have no issue of appearing, we appeared before the Senate ad hoc committee and as long as he remains, we will not make any presentation,” he said
However, the issuing of warrant of arrest by the lawmakers, follows the unanimous adoption of the motion by Rep. Benjamin Kalu at the investigative hearing On Thursday in Abuja.
Kalu, who is the spokesman of the house, commended the committee members for the maturity that they have displayed despite the provocations of the NDDC boss.
Kalu in his statement said, ”I want to refer this committee as well as the invited guests to section 60 which says that, the Senate or the House of Representatives shall have powers to regulate its own procedure.
“It is within the parameters of the law that the house regulates its activities, this is a committee affair and not a personalised affair.
“I want to move that this committee invokes the provisions of section 89 of the Constitution and invoke our powers on warrant of arrest to compel the agency to come and answer how they have administered the money appropriated to them,” he said.
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The committee, later passed a vote of confidence on the Chairman, while describing him as a man of integrity and a leader of high reputation.
Earlier in his speech, Tunji-Ojo said that documents from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation when there officials appeared before the investigative panel showed that NDDC had spent N81.5 billion between January and May 2020.
Just in: Suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, finally released from detention
Magu’s lawyer confirmed his release from the custody of the DSS.
The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has been released from police custody after about 10 days in detention.
According to a monitored report, this was confirmed by his lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo, who said that the EFCC boss is no longer under custody.
The suspended EFCC boss was invited by the presidential probe panel headed by Ayo Salami, a retired President of the Appeal Court to the Presidential Villa in Abuja on July 6 over allegations bordering on corruption and financial misconduct.
He was later moved to Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police in Abuja where he has since been detained.
Just earlier today, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, asked Magu, to direct his bail application to the presidential probe panel.
This was in response to a request by Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, Magu’s legal representative, who asked the IGP to grant bail to his client on self-recognisance after the suspended EFCC chief had spent four days in custody.
But in a letter dated July 14, 2020, and addressed to Mr Ojaomo, the IGP said the police force is not investigating and detaining Magu, so, it cannot grant the bail request.
It also advised the lawyer to redirect his request to the chairman of the presidential probe panel for appropriate action.
OPEC+ to reduce production cuts in August to 7.7 million barrels a day
OPEC+ is preparing to increase production in a period demand picks
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have agreed to increase crude oil supply starting from next month, as demand continues to rise to pre-pandemic levels.
OPEC+ agreed to reduce the daily production cut from 9.6 million barrels a day to 7.7 million barrels a day from August. The reduction in cuts was backed by both Saudi Arabia and Russia, including other participating oil ministers in the virtual conference.
This comes nearly 3 months of production cuts after oil fell to peak lows in April, last month OPEC production reached its lowest level in nearly 30 years since the gulf war. The decision to taper the previous reduction was expected earlier today as the body also talked on extended production cuts for countries like Nigeria, Iraq, and others for not meeting their production cuts for the months of May to June.
However, the risk remains on the strength of a demand recovery as the virus seems to be rebounding in the United States. Saudi Oil Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman revealed that the extra supply due to the already planned ease of production cuts will be consumed as demand rises. He added that economies globally are beginning to reopen, however, “this is a cautious and gradual process. The recovery signs are unmistakable.”
Nigeria’s position: OPEC expects the increase in supply to be offset by countries like Nigeria that did not meet full compliance on production cuts. Nigeria will join Iraq and Angola by engaging in a further 842,000 barrels a day of cuts through September. It is still unclear if Nigeria and the other defaulting members would be able to meet production cuts compliance as Nigeria has historically failed to meet production cuts numbers before.
Prince Abdulaziz, who has made it his mission to end the quota cheating that has dogged OPEC+ since its inception in 2016, said these compensation cuts are a crucial principle and the group must resist the temptation to relax.
OPEC+ is preparing to increase production in a period demand picks as Prince Abdulaziz has ensured that no country heats on its production cuts, adding that its essential the group cuts and increases production with one voice. The organization cut production to almost just 10% of global supply which enabled prices to rebound to over $40 after April’s lows.
Russia says the tapering goes in hand with the current rising demands and expects output hikes to be consumed in markets of OPEC members as it local demands recovers. Saudi Arabia expects flat exports next month as demand rises locally.