allAfrica.com: $100m Claim: Senate Threatens Shell Officials With Arrest: “THE Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum has threatened legal officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company with arrest should they continue to keep away from defending a $100 million (N13.5 billion) claim made against the multinational by the Ogoni community in Rivers State for a 1993 oil spillage.” (ShellNews.net) Posted 9 Dec 04
THE Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum has threatened legal officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company with arrest should they continue to keep away from defending a $100 million (N13.5 billion) claim made against the multinational by the Ogoni community in Rivers State for a 1993 oil spillage.
The threat came on a day Total Nigeria Limited passed the buck on the circumstances surrounding the turn around maintenance of the Kaduna refinery to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
At an appearance before the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum, Mr. Christian de Closieres, the Managing Director of Total Nigeria said its obligations and responsibilities in the $214.98 million contract which it supervised ended in August 2003 when it transferred its rights and obligations to the NNPC.
The Senate's threat against Shell came when its legal team failed to appear in defence of the $100 million claim instituted by the Ogoni community following the 1993 spillage from a Shell oil pipeline. The claim is in respect of loss of earnings for 11 years to 87,000 citizens and immediate soil treatments to enable the petitioners move back to their farmlands which they said had become unproductive since the spillage.
The Shell team at yesterday's session led by Chief Larry Ossai, the company's top government liaison officer had rendered an apology on behalf of the legal team who he said missed their flight connections from Lagos.
Committee chairman, Senator Emmanuel Azu Agboti was, however, not convinced saying: "If your lawyers fail for any reason to honour our invitation, we will issue a warrant of arrest. We have done it before. We need your legal advisers to answer the questions. Now that they are not here, it does not make any reason continuing with this issue."
Senator Agboti, before drawing the session to a close charged Shell to boost its rank of indigenous workers among local communities in its production areas.
"We may recommend that when you people appoint people to oversee a community, let it be people from that community so that they can negotiate properly with the local chiefs," Senator Agboti urged.
The Ogoni claim from Shell the $1.5 billion arbitration award made against the company by the House of Representatives which has received the endorsement of the Senate.
Meanwhile in its build-up to its public hearing on the working of the nation's refineries, the Committee on Downstream Petroleum met officials of Total Nigeria Limited, supervisors of the last Turn Around Maintenance of the Kaduna refinery.
The three-man delegation of the company led by Mr. de Closieres were asked to feed the committee with information concerning their involvement in the Turn Around Maintenance of the refinery.
The Senate Committee including vice-chairman, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and members James Danboyi, Abu Ibrahim and Oladapo Ehinlawo sought explanations from Total on its level of performance in the contract.
In his brief remark, Mr. de Closieres said the company executed its job as supervisors to the sub-contractors satisfactorily and was issued a performance certificate by the NNPC and paid its fee of $19 million as main contractor.