Monday, September 25, 2023
HomenewsCourt Awards N82bn Damages Against Mobil, NNPC Over Oil Spillage

Court Awards N82bn Damages Against Mobil, NNPC Over Oil Spillage

A Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded oil major Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and its joint venture partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a total of N81.9 billion in cumulative damages (NNPC).

In a ruling issued on Monday, Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered that the money be paid within 14 days, after which an annual interest rate of 8% will be charged on the principal sum.

The ruling came in a case brought by oil-producing villages in Akwa Ibom State’s Ibeno Local Government Area against Mobil and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Ibeno communities led by Obong Effiong Archianga and 9 others had through their lawyers, Chief Lucius Nwosu, SAN brought the action against NNPC, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and ExxonMobil Corporation seeking about N100 billion compensation for economic losses suffered from oil spillages caused by the defendants during exploration.

In the course of trial, the third defendant was deleted when the court established that their was no cause of action against the 3rd defendant.

The oil communities had gone to court to seek redress over oil spillage in the area, which they claimed had caused environmental degradation in their communities.

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo cited negligence on the part of the oil companies which led to oil spillage in the affected communities.
The court described as ‘unreliable” some of the witnesses Mobil produced in court, and noted that they became evasive during cross examination by counsel to the plaintiffs.

Justice Taiwo observed that the oral and documentary evidence produced by Mobil oil company did not help the court as they were targeted at serving predetermined interest.

According to the court, some of the witnesses ought not to have come to the court going in view of discrepancies in the documents brought to the court. The judge stated the witnesses only embarked on guess research that “is not reliable”.

Justice Taiwo lambasted the NNPC for being interested in the revenue generations from oil exploration at the expense of the lives of the people in the communities.

More so, the court held that both Mobil and NNPC were negligent by failing to visit places of crude oil leakages that led to contamination of Rivers and creeks.

The court noted the claims by Mobil that it did clean up exercise but held that the American company did not address the compensation that would have reduced the economic losses of the people who are predominantly fishermen and farmers.

Justice Taiwo dismissed the claims of the NNPC that the suit was statute barred when it was filed 2012.
The NNPC had argued that the suit was not instituted within 12 months as required by section 12(1) of the NNPC Act 2004.

It was the court’s opinion that the instant suit had to do with fundamental rights that could not be rendered “impotent by the statute of limitations”.

Section 11(5) of the Oil Pipeline Act, the court said, makes it mandatory for oil companies to monitor and repair their pipelines to avoid spillages and environmental degradation.

Consequently, he awarded the sum of N42.8billion as damages for intangible losses, N21.9billion special damages as annotated and N10 billion as general damages.

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