Ogoni Chiefs Ask Court to Wind up Bank over N17bn Judgement Debt


    Bayo Akinloye

    Five chiefs of Ejama-Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State have filed a fresh application at the Federal High Court in Lagos, asking the court to wind up First Bank Plc.

    The chiefs, who filed the application after the bank failed the claims, are Isaac Osaro Ogbara, Victor Obari, John Oguru, Joseph Ogusu, George Osaro, and Adanta Obelle,

    They filed the application through their lawyers, Lucius Nwosu (SAN), R. A. Lawal-Rabana (SAN) and others, are praying the court to wind-up First Bank for claiming that it does not have money to pay the N17billion which the court ordered in favour of the community in 2010.

    The Ejama community had dragged Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, United Kingdom, and Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt for alleged oil spills that occurred when Shell operated in the community.

    After listening to the submissions of the parties, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba awarded N17 billion in favour of the representatives of the Ogoni people in 2010

    The court equally granted the Ogoni chiefs 25 per cent interest charge on the principal sum of about N17 billion. SPDC then appealed against the judgment and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the appeal.
    As a condition for granting a stay of execution, the court directed Shell’s bankers, First Bank to provide a guarantee of the judgment sum should they lose at the Court of Appeal.

    This condition was complied with, but Shell’s appeal failed at the Appeal Court on technical grounds, ostensibly because it filed its processes out of time and without regularising them.

    Since then, the Ogoni has mounted a lot of legal pressure on the bank to redeem the undertaking it signed to no avail. But the bank claimed that it had appealed the case at the Supreme Court, which the community said, was not part of the agreement.

    In the latest petition before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the Ogoni chiefs are asking the court to wind up the bank for its insolvency.

    In some of the document cited at the court, the community chiefs are praying the court for an order granting them leave to advertise the wind-up of the bank.

    In the suit, which they claimed was brought pursuant to Rules 4 and 19 (1) and (2) of the Companies Winding-up Rules 2001 and under the inherent powers of the court, the chiefs are praying the court to order they advertise winding up petition in one national newspaper and any other newspaper circulating in Lagos, which is the city where the bank has its corporate head officer.