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Shell $2.7bn ‘oil theft’ case: AITEO asked court to commit two banks officials to prison



A Federal High Court in Lagos, Wednesday fixed March 2 for ruling on whether to hear a contempt application filed against two banks and their officials for disobeying a court order to block Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd bank accounts.

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo fixed the date after hearing agreement of counsels on which application should be heard first.

AITEO Eastern E & P Company Ltd through its counsel Kemi Pinheiro SAN who led Dapo olanipekun and Emeka Ezoani both SAN had filed form 48 against officials of the two banks.


Pinheiro told the judge that the alleged contemnors wilfully disobeyed the court’s interim orders of January 25, 2021 directing them to block SPDC accounts, for allegedly “interfering, obstructing and/or frustrating compliance with the interim orders.”

AITEO further prayed for an order “directing the Inspector General of Police through his officers to “immediately arrest, detain, investigate and prosecute the respondents for interfering with the course of administration of justice…”

Justice Oguntoyinbo made the said interim January 25 order following AITEO’s ex parte application in suit no FHC/L/CS/52/202, seeking to recover the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted by the oil giant from AITEO.

She directed 20 banks to “ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7 billion and pay all standing credits to the Shell companies up to the value into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court.”

The Chief Registrar is to “hold the funds in trust” pending the hearing of the motion and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed before it by AITEO.

Pinheiro told the judge on Wednesday that out of 20 nominal respondent banks in the case, only the trio had failed to comply with the order.

The bank’s and Shell’s counsel, opposed the application to hear the committer proceedings first.

SPDC counsel Adewale Atake SAN informed the court of his pending motion praying that the court to stay proceedings and refer the case to Arbitration.

He also informed the judge that he had filed another motion that the order be discharged and he urged the court to hear his application first.

Atake made an oral application 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 could not pay workers’ salaries, and contractors would not be able to execute contracts and that

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

Counsel for the banks, Mr Olawale Akoni SAN, also prayed the court to hear his motion to discharge the Mareva order first.

But their applications were opposed by Pinheiro.

“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 court cannot equally be seeking for favour from the same court,” he said.

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

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