Oil spill in Niger Delta
Nembe Oil Spill

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay an aggregate sum of N82 billion to communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as special and general damages for oil spillages that occurred in the communities from 2000 to 2010.

The money, according to the court is to be deducted from accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and its joint venture partner, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.

Heads of the communities, led by their king, HRH Obong Effiong Archianga, had through their lawyers, Chief Lucius Nwosu, SAN, approached the court, complaining that they were yet to receive the money awarded to them in a judgment the court delivered on June 21, 2021.

They lamented that the apex bank had on December 15, 2021, in a garnishee nisi proceeding they initiated against the judgment debtors, insisted that it had to firstly secure the consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, before it could enforce the judgment.

Dissatisfied with CBN’s action, the court, in a ruling Justice Taiwo Taiwo delivered, yesterday, issued a garnishee order absolute, mandating the removal of the money from funds standing to the credit of both NNPC and Mobil.

The judge held that it was wrong for the apex bank to maintain that it must get consent from the AGF before implementing the judgment.

“The January 6, 2022, application for an order nisi is hereby made absolute against the apex bank”, Justice Taiwo ordered.

The court had in its substantive judgment, held that failure of the defendants to pay the damages within the stipulated time would attract an eight percent interest per annum until when the payment is completed.

It equally issued an order of mandamus, mandating the NNPC, which was sued as the 1st defendant in the matter, to discharge its duties by ensuring that its venture operators clean up, detoxify, and rehabilitate the land ecosystem, underground water, and air quality of the oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom State.

The plaintiffs had in the suit, argued that there has been incessant crude oil bursts and spillages from facilities owned by Mobil.

They averred that the spillages discharged over 500,000 Barrels of Crude hydrocarbon oil and associated production water into the marine, swamp, mudflats and fragile wetland environment of their homestead.

The plaintiffs had accused the oil giant of engaging in continuous gas flaring which they said emit huge carbon dioxide, dangerous monoxide, and carbon particles (sooth).

Though both NNPC and Mobil applied for the suit to be dismissed for being incompetent and status barred, however, the court, in its judgment, said it was satisfied that the plaintiffs made out a good case to warrant the grant of compensatory reliefs they sought in the matter

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