A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday further slated May 31 and June 1 to hear a suit filed by the federal government against Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd over alleged crude oil theft.
The suit numbered FHC/L/CS/336/16 was filed by federal government’s counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), and is pending before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
It has as defendants, Shell Petroleum Development. Company of Nigera Ltd and its subsidiary, Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd.
When the suit number was mentioned yesterday, counsel representing the plaintiff, Mr. Ituah Imhanze, informed the court of an application for amendment of his statement of claim.
He urged the court to grant his application, and allow the plaintiff leave to tidy its pleadings.
This application for amendment was not opposed by the defence.
In a short ruling, Justice Olatoregun granted the application for amendment, but noted that there had been no remarkable progress in the suit since it was filed, other than amendments.
She, however, fixed May 31 and June 1 for hearing, adding that the plaintiff must ensure it serves all amended processes on the defence.
In the suit, the plaintiff, (FG) is claiming the sum of $406.8 million from the defendants, representing the shortfall of money paid into the federal government account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The money was said to be for crude oil lifted in 2013 and 2014.
In a supporting affidavit, the FG had accused the Anglo-Dutch company of not declaring or under-declaring crude oil shipments during the period.
It said this was following forensic analysis of bills of laden and shipping documents, adding that Shell cheated Nigeria of the revenue.
According to the affidavit, the consortium of experts tracked the global movements of the country’s hydro-carbons, including crude oil and gas.
They identified the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas export sales to different parts of the world.
They also revealed discrepancies in the export records from Nigeria with the import records at US ports.
Plaintiff averred that the undeclared shipments between January 2013 and December 2014 brought the total value of the entire shortfall to $406.75 million.
The defendants were said to have failed to respond to a federal government letter through its legal representative, seeking clarification as to the discrepancies.
The federal government is therefore, seeking a court order to compel the two companies to pay $406.8 million, being the total value of the missing revenue and interest payment at 21 per cent per annum.
In addition, the government is also asking Shell to pay general exemplary damages in the sum of $406.75 million as well as the cost of the legal action.
The federal government had also sued Chevron, Total and Agip, in a similar case before the court.
It is asking for a total of $12.7 billion dollars over alleged non-declaration of 57 million barrels of crude shipped to the US between 2011 and 2014.
The oil companies are among 15 oil majors targeted by the government for the recovery of 17 billion dollars in deprived revenue