N82B Oil Spillage Judgement: A’Ibom community gives ExxonMobil 14days ultimatum

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Speculations are rife that Ibeno Community in Akwa ibom state may go on warpath if at the expiration of the 14 days ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a judgement debt on Monday, June 21, 2021 for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay them the sum of N81.9 billion as cumulative damages over oil spillage is not heeded.

Reacting to the Federal High Court’s judgement, the oil rich community said their victory in the case, instituted since 2012 has justified their pursuits for justice and fairness, stating that by that landmark judgement, the judiciary in Nigeria has re-enacted public trust as being the last hope of the common man as well as for those who pursue their rights legally.

The Community therefore urged Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to honour the court judgement by paying them the sum of N81.9 billion within the 14 days as ordered by the court without delay.

Speaking at an emergency town hall meeting with stakeholders of Ibeno Community in his palace, the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno Local Government Areas, HRM Owong (Dr.) Effiong Archianga, said over the years, “multinational oil exploration and production companies have been in conflicts with host communities over oil spillages and with consequences of environmental degradation, negative socio-economic impacts, health hazards coupled with pollution of our ecosystem which affects our occupation as fishermen and farmers.”

The traditional ruler, who is Immediate Past National President, Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) said his people remained grateful to the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General and members of the Jury, for standing by Ibeno people for the past nine years during their legal battle with ExxonMobil.

According to them, “It is against this background that the entire people of Ibeno Land at home and in diaspora wish to thank you severally and individually especially the lead Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Taiwo Taiwo for the landmark judgment of Monday, 21st June, 2021, for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay the sum of N81.9 billion as cumulative damages to the oil communities in Ibeno within 14days and that failure to pay within the stipulated time would attract an accruable interest of 8 per cent on the principal sum annually.”

According to him, “we are indeed grateful to all persons whom the Almighty God used as instrument to perfect this judgment in favour of Ibeno people after nine years of stressful and legal contest with MPNU and NNPC. Indeed, this is historic record for the Judiciary. I hope the edition of Nigerian Weekly Law Reports would chronicle this in their next edition.

“We lack adequate words to express the depth of our gratitude to you but we pray the good Lord to bless and reward each and every one bountifully and to grant the jurists the grace and more wisdom to continue to protect the defend less citizens in this great country against injustice and oppression.

“We equally appreciate Ibeno Legal team for their steadfastness and for the job well done and we call for concerted efforts to enforce the judgment.

At the stakeholders meeting, the community observed a minute silence for five dead members of the 10-Member plaintiffs, who represented themselves and on behalf of the people and members of Ibeno Clan in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in the case: Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/54/2012 filed through their lawyer, Lucius Nwosu, SAN with a claim of N100billion.

The plaintiffs included Obong (Dr.) Effiong B. Archianga, JP; Obong Daniel A. Udomfiok; Obong Daniel Peter Ekpo (Late); Obong Bassey Akpanika, JP, (Late); Chief Owon Akpanowong (Late); Williams Henry Mkpah; Obongonwan Besie Nyakpa (Late); Chief Edmond Okon; Chief Isuamdono l. Okon (Late) and Chief Okutinyang Inyang.

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