By Peter Uzoho
The Italian oil major, Eni, has threatened to take legal action against the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) and other critics for allegedly defaming the company over the Milan Court’s ruling on the Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 case.
Eni, in a statement that was issued yesterday in Abuja, said it found it shocking and contrary to any principle of law that the HEDA had ignored all the facts in the Milan judgment and went about defaming the organisation, its management and the Italian Court.
The HEDA, an anti-corruption organisation, had requested President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the Italian Court’s verdict on the OPL 245 and prosecute Shell and Eni in Nigeria.
Eni stated that the Italian Court was chosen by Nigeria as the venue of the trial of the case and wondered why the HEDA and others should be calling for a retrial in Nigeria.
It said: “We find it really shocking and contrary to any principle of law that this group, not being satisfied with the Milan Court verdict, ignoring all of the above and defaming the Courts of the Republic of Italy expressly chosen by the Nigerian state as well, are now looking to obtain a new trial in another country on alleged offences, which have been proved to be completely groundless by a sovereign state court and other prominent global authorities.
“Eni will assess its right to take all the appropriate legal actions against the HEDA and all the subjects which are continuing to defame Eni and its management even after an acquittal ‘since there was no case to debate has been delivered by a court of a sovereign state.”
According to the statement, Shell, Eni and their management had been acquitted, together with all other Italian and Nigerian individuals under trial by the Court of Milano, following almost three years of trial in which no evidence emerged to support the alleged offence of international corruption.
It noted that the Milan’s court acquitted the defendants since there was no case to be debated and that Nigeria participated to the full extent at the case, brought expertise, evidence and arguments and lost.