Oil Spillage: Court rules in favour of Akwa Ibom communities, orders NNPC, Mobil to pay N82 billion as judgement debt

Agency Report

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to pay the sum of N82 billion judgement debt owed some oil communities in Akwa Ibom State.

The communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of the state led by Obong Effiong Archianga and nine others brought a lawsuit against the NNPC and Mobil through their lawyer, Lucius Nwosu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

They had, in their original suit, sought about N100 billion compensation for economic losses they had suffered as a result of the oil spillages caused by the two oil giants during exploration.

The judge, Taiwo Taiwo, had, in a judgement in June 2021, ordered Mobil and NNPC to pay the Akwa Ibom oil communities cumulative damages of N81.9 billion over oil spillage that ruined their economic lives.

“The companies during exploration had been using decrepit pipelines under water and caused multiple spills. They were asked to recompense,” Mr Nwosu told journalists on Monday.

The judge, while ruling on garnishee proceedings initiated by the affected communities, on Monday, dismissed all the objections raised by the two oil firms and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) against making the garnishee order absolute.

“Since all challenges to the order nisi dated 15 December, 2021 have been dispensed with and found lacking in merit, the order nisi is hereby made absolute against the garnishes,” Mr Taiwo held.

Newsmen reported last week that Seplat Energy entered into a contract with a Nigerian unit of Texas-based supermajor Exxon Mobil, to procure Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited’s entire oil assets in Nigeria that date back to 1961 when the American firm first got the nod to prospect for oil in the country.

This development, Mr Nwosu said is “unfortunate,” urging the NNPC to quickly get Mobil’s assets in its custody to pay the judgement debt, warning that the Nigerian government will be held liable.

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