Court Issues Criminal Summons against Shell, Seven Others over Alleged Oil Theft

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

A judge of an Upper Area Court in Abuja, Justice Gambo Garba, yesterday issued a criminal summons against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria and seven of its top Executives over alleged stealing of 16 million barrels of crude oil through the use of a fraudulent and unapproved metering system.

The executives summoned persons are Chibueze Uduanochie, Simon Ruddy, Bashir Bello, Osagie Okunbor, Igo Weli, Toyin Olagunji and Captain Callium Finlayson.

According to the summon dated February 25, the respondents are to appear before the court on March 2, to answer the charge levelled against them by the complainant.

The suit marked DC/CR/200/2021, was filed by the African Initiative Against Abuse of Public Trust.

By the suit, the group alleged that as operators of the Bonny Terminal, Shell installed an unapproved metering system which it claimed was temporary and which it manipulated to deliberately understate the volume of crude oil that was injected to the terminal thereby shortchanging the local oil companies, owners of the oil and the federal government the revenue due to them.

The oil companies include Belema Oil, Eroton, AITEO and Newcross.

Consequently, the group seeks an order of court convicting the Shell Executives for the criminal acts of conspiracy, theft, and cheating which are in violation of Sections 97, 287 and 323 of the Penal Code Law Cap 89 Law of Northern Nigeria, 1963.

From the court papers, the group alleged that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has conducted investigation into the allegations and has indicted SPDC.

The complainant further alleged that Shell has admitted to having cheated the companies of about 2 million barrels and also committed to refund the crude to the companies.

The group said they would be pressing for the maximum punishment which is six months in jail for conspiracy, five years for theft and five years for cheating.