Legal fireworks between Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd and Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Ltd over allegation of 16 million barrels of crude oil diversion begin
A Nigerian Court has granted an interim mareva injunction directing 20 commercial banks to block the accounts of oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, in a bid to recover the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted from AITEO Eastern E & P Company Ltd.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court in Lagos gave the order following an ex- parte motion in suit marked FHC/L/ CS/52/202 which has AITEO Eastern E & P Company Ltd as the plaintiff/applicants and SPDC Ltd as the first defendant.
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 were joined as second, third, fourth and fifth defendants respectively.
Platforms Africa reports that the banks where the Shell companies operate accounts in Nigeria were also joined as respondents in the suit.
AITEO’s motion was filed by Messrs Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) leading Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Dapo Olanipekun (SAN) and four other SANs.
In her ruling on the motion, Justice Oguntoyinbo directed the banks to “ringfence 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 judge further directed the Chief Registrar 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.
The court also restrained the defendants or their agents/privies from presenting to the banks ”any mandate or instrument for the withdrawal of any money and /or funds standing to the credit of any of the accounts” of the defendants kept/maintained “at any of the named respondent banks, “without first preserving/ring-fencing the sum of $1,251,305.5 or its equivalent in any other official currency including but not limited to the naira and/or pound sterling being the value of the plaintiff’s 1,022,029 barrels of crude oil (at the rate of $79.50 per barrel as stated in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) letter dated 8th day of July, 2020″.
The defendants were further restrained in the interim from presenting to the named banks any mandate or instrument for the withdrawal or any money and/or funds standing to the credit of any of the accounts of the five defendants kept or maintained at any of the named respondent banks and or their branches without first preserving.