Rivers: Court to Hear Pollution Suit against Indorama  June 6

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has fixed June 6, 2024, to hear an alleged environmental pollution suit against Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Fertilizer Limited by some indigenes of its host communities in the state.

One Kingsley Mba-Ngei and 69 others from Alesa community in Eleme Local Government Area of the state had filed a suit before Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam of the Federal High Court, alleging environmental pollution by the facility of Indorama in the area.

The case registered in suit number: FHC/PH/CS/23/2024 could not continue yesterday, following the directives of the trial jJudge that parties should go back and properly file their proceedings.

The lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Mohammed Ndarani Mohammed, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had earlier told the court how urgent and important the matter is, alleging that the community people are suffering from the effect of pollution in the environment and would want to have a clean and healthy environment.

He urged the court to continue with the matter, saying that Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria speaks on the protection of environment and safeguard of the water, air, others.

In their separate arguments, lead counsel for the Indorama noted that the ground for filing the originating suit was improper.

One of the lead counsel for Indorama, Godwin Omoaka, reminded the court of a preliminary objection challenging the suit and seeking that the court give the parties a new date to argue the matter.

The position of the 1st defendant, Indorama, was supported by the 3rd defendant, the Attorney General of Federal, who also agreed that a new date be fixed for the matter to commence trial.

After hearing the arguments of the parties in the suit, the trial Judge ruled that the substantive matter cannot be heard immediately, explaining that it was brought to the court through originating summons and not writ of summons.

Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, counsel for Indorama, Omoaka explained what transpired in court.

Omoaka explained that: “My Lord wanted to direct parties to file pleadings because the matter was commenced by Originating Summon. But the counsel for the plaintiff wanted the court to hear the matter on originating summons, but my Lord took the view that the matter was a contested matter, so parties should file pleadings so that the matter can proceed to trial, and we agreed to that.

“My Lord ordered that the matter be filed on pleadings and we will come back on June 6, this year, having completed the pleading processes, which means that they will have to file their application of claims, we will file our statement of defence and then they will reply, if need be we will file a rejoinder.

“But the bottom line is that the court is not going to hear the case based on originating summons as presently constituted today.”

Meanwhile, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mohammed, when approached by journalists, declined comment.

THISDAY at the court promises sighted crowd of Eleme youths from the host communities, who were at the court premises to show solidarity to Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Fertiliser group, also to the applicants.

The plaintiff are alleging that Indorama polluted their water bodies in the course of producing its products (fertilizer), therefore all the water bodies where they carry out their businesses, drink and derive their livelihood were polluted, and as such they have come to court to claim billions of naira against the company.

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