The hard-fighting Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, one of the biggest and strategic oil and gas states in Nigeria, appears to be a bit innovative in the pursuit of resource control, a prime agitation of the peoples of the Niger Delta.
The Wike administration which was locked in a conflict with the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, has secured the enforcement of its interest in the acquisition of 45 percent equity stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 and Kidney Island in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zaccheus Adangor, SAN, says the state has sealed off Kidney Island in execution of a judgment of the state High Court.
According to him, sometime in 2017, the people of Ejama-Ebubu secured judgment against Shell and its subsidiaries in the sum of N57.7 billion for the damages done to their environment arising from the oil spill from its Trans-Niger pipeline.
“After that judgment, Shell refused to pay the judgment sum and thereafter proceeded to levy execution by attaching the moveable properties of SPDC. But those were found to be grossly insufficient to settle the judgment sum’’, Adangor said.
Kidney Island was once used as Shell’s operational base in Port Harcourt. It now belongs to the state government pursuant to a certificate of purchase registered in the Lands Registry as No. 6 at page 6 in Vol. 46, Port Harcourt.
The certificate was issued by the order of the High Court of Rivers State on July 23, 2019 and September 25, 2019 following the purchase of the facility.
The Supreme Court had last November reaffirmed Rivers’ acquisition of Shell’s interest in OML 11 and Kidney Island when it dismissed the big oil suit which sought to set aside the judgment made against it in 2019 in favour of Ejama-Ebubu community.
Subsequently, Ejama-Ebubu community approached the court to seek its leave to attach the immovable properties of Shell and the court granted the community an order. ‘’There was a court order for sell off some of the properties of Shell including Kidney Island and the acquisition of Shell interest in OML 11’’, the commissioner said.
According to Adangor, after the court order, a public auction was held by the officers of the state Judiciary and the state government bided successfully for the purchase of Kidney Island and Shell interest in OML 11.
Continuing, he said the Wike administration was at the Shell facility on Wednesday to execute the judgment of the state’s High Court and secure the enforcement of the interest acquired by the state, pointing out that the administration successfully executed the enforcement as Shell in all fairness did not resist the enforcement.
, he said.
In the mean time, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Sheriff, High Court, Port Harcourt, Livinus Akere, says the exercise was to take vacant possession of Kidney Island auctioned on the August 13, 2019 and OML 11 in Ejama community of Eleme Local Government Area.
In September 2019, Governor Wike had announced the acquisition of Shell 45% interest in OML 11 oilfields and Kidney Island in the state.
The governor following a court order to auction Shell assets in the suit against Ejama-Ebubu community, had directed the state Ministry of Finance Incorporated to make a bid of $150,000,0900.00 supported by a Bank Guarantee and cash payment to the Deputy Sheriff in the sum of N1.00 billion, the later payable to the Judgment creditors while the former is escrowed.