OML 11: Rivers still lays claim to oilfield, wins suit against Shell

Rivers, Nigeria’s oil-rich sub-national state, is still laying claim to having acquired the controverted Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). The state won ownership of the oilfield at a Port Harcourt High Court, presided over by Charles Nwogu, a justice of the high court.

OML 11 is a set of 33 oilfields yielding 28,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd). The area straddles some communities in Ogoni land, extending to Okrika, Andoni, Oyigbo and Ikwerre local government areas of the state.

The court delivered judgement in the suit, PHC/652/CS/2020 filed by the Attorney General of Rivers State against Shell of Nigeria Limited.

The state government had claimed that SPDC Defendant’s/ Judgment Debtor interest in its fixed landed assets comprised in Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and interests in lands comprised in oil mining lease No. 11 (OML 11) sold to the claimant pursuant to the execution of the combined court judgments in Suit No. FHC/PH/231/2001; CA/PH/396/2012 and the Supreme Court Appeal No.SC 731/2017, is consistent with the command contained in Section 287(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).

The claimant further states that the continued defiant appropriation (despite the completed sale) of possessory and usufructuary, including pecuniary accruals in respect of its fixed landed assets comprised in its Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and interests in lands comprised in OML 11 infringes on the claimant’s vested respective rights to title, and pecuniary interests therein.

That SPDC is bound to render accounts to and pay over to the claimant all accruals from the defendant’s continued appropriation of the pecuniary interests in the said OML 11, including arrears of commercial rents for their use of the said property from the date the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State issued title documents thereon to the claimant until the defendant peaceably yields up possession thereof.

The court upheld the claims of Rivers Government in the following terms: SPDC Judgment Debtor’s interests in its fixed landed assets comprised in its Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and interests in lands comprised in OML 11 sold to the claimant pursuant to the execution of the combined court judgments in Suit No. FHC/PH/231/2001; CA/PH/396/2012 and the Supreme Court Appeal No. SC 731/2017 is consistent with the command contained in Section 287(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

That the Defendant’s continued defiant appropriation (despite the completed sale) of possessory and usufructuary rights including pecuniary accruals in respect of its fixed assets comprised in its Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and interests in lands comprised in OML 11 infringes on the claimant’s vested respective rights to title and pecuniary interests therein.

Also that, the defendant is bound to render accounts to and pay over to the claimant all accruals from the defendant’s continued appropriation of the pecuniary interests in the said OML 11 including arrears of commercial rents for their use of the Kidney Island Base and Jetty from the date the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State issued title documents thereon to the claimant until the defendant peaceably yields up possession thereof.

That the claimant ought to be accorded with all interests, rights, privileges and benefits derivable from its acquisition of defendant’s fixed  landed assets comprised in its Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and interests in lands comprised in OML 11 in accordance with the title documents issued by the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State.

That the claimant is entitled to the defendant’s fixed landed assets comprised in its Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and the license in lands comprised in OML 11 in accordance with the title documents issued by the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State.

The Port Harcourt High Court issued an order compelling Shell, its agents, assigns, representatives, privies or whosoever called to accord the Rivers with all rights, privileges and benefits accruable from its purchase of the oil company’s fixed landed assets comprised in OML 11, in accordance with the title documents issued by the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State.

It directed Shell to account for and handover all monetary accruals it had made from its continued appropriation of OML 11 from the date the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Rivers State issued title documents thereon to the claimant, until the defendant peaceably yields up possession thereof. The court also perpetually restrained Shell and its agents, assigns, representatives, privies from embarking on acts or omissions adverse to the title, right and interest of Rivers State over the OML 11.

Finally, the Court condemned SPDC’s continued violation of the legal process by her continued occupation of the said Kidney Island Base, Port Harcourt and other properties already acquired by Rivers State.

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