A federal high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, has sentenced Osagie Okunbor, managing director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to prison.
On Tuesday, George Omeriji, a judge, ordered that Okunbor and two high-ranking legal staff of SPDC be remanded for three months over an alleged contempt of a 2008 court judgment that challenged the company’s right to use lands at the Bonny oil export terminal in Rivers state.
SPDC operates a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the terminal where Nigeria’s premier crude grade, the Bonny Light is exported from.
Reacting to the court judgement, the oil giant said all disputes related to land usage at the Bonny terminal had been “amicably resolved” with the landlord families” involved in the case.
“We do not accept that SPDC has disobeyed any lawful order of court and have accordingly appealed this judgement,” Bamidele Odugbesan, SPDC spokesman, said in a statement.
“SPDC has utmost respect for the courts and the laws of Nigeria. As stated above, the landlord families settled with SPDC in 2014 and collected all rents due on the land up to 2019.
“SPDC takes seriously the personal liberty of its officers and also the threat to continuing operations at the Bonny Oil Terminal, a critical national asset in which the Federal Government holds 55 percent interest.
“For this reason, SPDC has taken all lawful steps to protect its officials and ensure uninterrupted operations at the terminal in the interest of the nation.”