Court refuses to unblock Shell’s bank accounts

Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday declined to vacate an interim injunction directing 20 banks to block Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and its subsidiaries’ bank accounts.

The court also insisted that two of the banks’ secretaries and chief financial officers accused of disobeying the order made on January 25, 2021 must appear before it on March 29, 2021.

The affected banks and their officials are: Citi Bank Ltd, its Company Secretary Sola Fagbure and Chief Financial Officer, Sharaf Mohammed; United Bank For Africa (UBA) Plc, its Company Secretary Bill Andrew Odum and Chief Financial Officer, Ebenezer Kolawole.

The judge threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against them if they failed to appear before her on the next adjourned date.

The court made the order in a ruling on three separate applications in a suit filed by Aiteo Eastern E&P Company Ltd against SPDC and four others.

In the suit Aiteo is demanding about $2.7 billion from SPDC over alleged problems with the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) pipeline it bought from the Anglo-Dutch group in 2015 and over claims that Shell undercounted its oil exports.

Joined with SPDC as respondents in the suit are Royal Dutch Shell Plc; Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd; Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd; and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd.

Justice Oguntoyinbo had granted the order of Mareva injunction on January 25, 2021 directing 20 commercial banks to block SPDC and its subsidiaries’ accounts and barring Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiaries from withdrawing money at 20 banks until it, “ringfences” potential damages in a lawsuit brought against the firm by Aiteo. 17 of the banks have complied with the order and they have been discharged.

The order was sequel to AITEO’s bid to recover from Shell, the cash equivalent of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted by the oil company.

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