…Said company, Claudio Descalzi, top managers fully acquitted by Milan court
…But company yet to wriggle out of another N50bn trial in Nigeria on human rights abuse
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Eni, Italian oil giant says it welcomed Wednesday’s judgement by a court in Milan, Italy, which gave full acquittal of all charges against the company, the chief executive officer, Claudio Descalzi and top managers of the company in relation to the Nigeria OPL 245 trial.
According to Eni’s management, the judgement came, “since there was no case by the Court of Milan.”
“After almost three years of trial, the judgment by the Court has finally established that the company, the CEO Claudio Descalzi and the management involved in the proceedings have all behaved in a lawful and correct manner,” said the oil company.
According to Eni, it has “throughout maintained its full confidence in the Court’s fair and balanced investigation.”
“Today, Eni expresses its gratitude for the trust placed by its stakeholders throughout the course of the trial, particularly in upholding the company’s management and the conduct of its business, and respecting its reputation,” the Italian global oil company said.
However, the oil company is yet to wriggle out of another trail in Nigeria in which it faces N30bn – N50bn payout for Nigeria human rights violation in Bayelsa State. Last year, an Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, dismissed the appeal by Agip, Eni’s Nigerian affiliate in a 21-year-old case where it (Agip) was adjudged to have “instigated, masterminded and supported” two military invasions of Tugogbene, a Bayelsa oil community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (SILGA) of the state, on 13 November 1999 and 26 July 2000, killing nine persons, maiming several others, as well as completely destroying a school, several houses and other properties.
The Appeal Court, in a judgement on November 11, 2020, delivered by Tunde Oyebamiji Awotoye (JCA), said Agip’s appeal against the lower court (Bayelsa State High Court) lacked merit, and therefore, is dismissed; while he affirmed the lower court’s ruling in suit SHC/MSC/22M/2017 delivered on 5 March, 2018.
According to the appeal judge, Awotoye, the oil company could not prove its objection to the community’s request of “Fundamental Human Rights’ Enforcement Rule, 2009” as provided for under the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
The judge said the oil company could not adequately substantiate its objection to the community’s fundamental human rights enforcement procedure: “The provisions of the Rules are very clear, and there is no need looking elsewhere in interpreting its ambit and extent of its application. The natural and ordinary meaning of the Rules must be given to it.”
It is yet to be heard what the Nigerian Supreme Court would say when it begins deliberations on the appeal brought by Agip.