Shell Petroleum Development Company has appealed a Rivers State High Court order sentencing its Managing Director, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, and two others to three months imprisonment for contempt of court.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the High Court on Tuesday sentenced the company’s managing director, and two others to prison with hard labour.
Reacting to the sentence, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, who is the Manager, Corporate Communications and External Relations of Shell in a text message to NAN on Wednesday in Lagos decried the court’s pronouncements.
According to Odugbesan, “We do not accept that SPDC has disobeyed any lawful court order and we have accordingly appealed this judgment. SPDC has utmost respect for the courts and the laws of Nigeria.
“We have appealed against the order and applied to suspend its execution pending the outcome of the appeal,” the SPDC spokesperson told NAN.
Odugbesan explained that the said 2008 judgement was settled between SPDC and the landlord families of the land in 2014.
“An amicable resolution and settlement agreement were signed by the parties in 2014 after which SPDC paid all the rents due on the land up to 2019,” he said.
He cited a paid public notice by the landlord families in the October 24, 2014 edition of the Guardian Newspaperacknowledging the settlement with SPDC.
He said that the Bonny Oil Terminal is a critical national asset in which the Federal Government has 55 per cent interest.
“For this reason, SPDC has taken all lawful steps to protect its officials and ensure uninterrupted operations at the terminal in the interest of the nation.
“It receives crude oil from international and local oil companies through the Trans Niger Pipeline and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line for Export,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that some members of Bonny community in Rivers had approached the court, presided over by Justice George Omeriji, to commit the SPDC officials to prison for disobeying its order of 2008.
The community wanted the court to direct the company to forfeit the land where one of Nigeria’s biggest oil terminals, Bonny Oil Terminal, was located.