africa

Aiteo accuses banks of contempt in Shell ‘oil theft’ case


By Robert Egbe

The Federal High Court in Lagos will on March 2 rule on whether to entertain a motion challenging its jurisdiction first or to consider contempt proceedings against two banks for allegedly disobeying an order to block Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd’s bank accounts.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo fixed the date after hearing arguments from counsel for Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Ltd, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), Adewale Atake (SAN) for SPDC and Olawale Akoni (SAN) for the banks.

Mr Pinheiro told the judge that Aiteo had a motion for interlocutory injunction and committal proceedings applications against the banks for their alleged willful disobedience to the court’s interim Mareva orders of January 25, 2021, directing them to block SPDC accounts.

AITEO obtained the order in suit no FHC/L/CS/52/202, in a bid to recover the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted Shell, said to be worth about $2.7 billion.

Mr Atake said he had two pending applications, seeking to stay proceedings, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and discharge the Mareva order.

He applied that the Mareva order be varied, on the ground that it had imposed “hardship” on Shell and even the Federal Government. He said there was a danger that the oil giant would not be able to pay workers’ salaries, and contractors would not be able to execute contracts.

But, the judge declined, noting that the Federal Government was not a party to the suit.

Akoni, who represented the banks, also prayed the court to hear his motion to discharge the Mareva order.

But, opposing them, Pinheiro said: “My lord, a party who is in disobedience of court order cannot be seeking relief from the same court and a party who has filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court cannot equally be seeking for a favour from the same court.”

Justice Oguntoyinbo said the Mareva order subsists and deferred ruling on which application to be heard first till next Tuesday.



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