Shell Vs Ogoniland: Judge Frowns At CBN Gov’s Failure To Appear In Court
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has frowned at the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to appear at Tuesday’s proceedings of the case between the people of Ogoniland and Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, despite telling his lawyer to produce him in court.
Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara and nine others (on behalf of the ancient “Onne eh Ejama” Stool in Council, Chiefs Elders, Men, Women and Children of Ejama-Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State) had alleged that the CBN was refusing to comply with an order regarding payment of N182,768,696,651.89 to the people of Ogoniland, being the monetary compensation awarded to the community in a suit against Shell.
The suit bordered on oil spillage and its negative effects on people of Ogoniland.
Chief Isaac ( applicant), represented by Lucius Nwosu(SAN), had asked the court to sanction the CBN Governor for, “persistent and fragrant refusal to obey and comply with the Garnishee Order Absolute made by this honourable court on the 2″ Day of March 2020 compelling them to pay over to the Judgement Creditors / Applicants the sum of N182,768,696,651.89 (One Hundred And Eighty Two Billion, Seven Hundred And Eight Million, Six Hundred And Ninety-Six Thousand Six Hundred And Fifty One Naira Eighty Nine Kobo) belonging to First Bank Ltd in their custody, being the undertaking/Bank Guarantee given the 17th day of December 2012 in fulfillment of the order of this Honourable Court…”
He added that the governor needed to show cause why he should not be sent to prison for contempt.
On his part, Justice Taiwo asked Emefiele’s counsel, Demain Dodo,SAN, why his client did not come to court despite earlier advising him to appear.
The judge noted that even though he did not make it an order, it was necessary for the CBN governor to show regard to due process of the court.
“I don’t think in all fairness that the Governor should refuse to come to court…he must respect the laws of the land,” he added.
But Demian Dodo, in his response, explained that the CBN governor’s failure to show up in court was not out of disrespect, but rather in the pursuit of his legitimate constitutional legal right to set aside processes that was served on him even though he was not a party in this case.
He also accused the applicant of having personal grudges against his client, who, according to him, is not a party in the matter between Shell and the people of Ogoniland.
“Godwin Emefiele was not a party, has never been a party in the substantive case against Shell or any garnishee proceedings; why do you need the court to serve a case on a person who was never a party?
“The insistence that this proceedings cannot go on without the appearance of CBN governor is gravely mistaken.
“This proceeding can safely and regularly conducted by this court without the appearance of Godwin Emefiele and I urge that the court so proceed and resist any invitation to anchor the dignity, respect and prestige of this court on just another ordinary citizen,” he added.
After listening to both sides, Justice Taiwo said he would have to adjourn to March 18 to deliver a ruling on whether the CBN Governor should be compelled to appear before the court or not.
He also said he would hear all the processes filed before him by all the lawyers in the matter.