ThisDayOnline.com: Shell Dares Senate, Says 'You're No Court': “The Committee on Compliance with Senate Resolution had on Wednesday threatened to nationalise the SPDC…”: “In a press statement issued yesterday, Shell said pronouncing judgement and awarding compensation in a matter of disputes between parties was clearly outside the jurisdiction of the National Assembly.”: “SPDC maintains that it is a responsible corporate citizen, and that it has over the years sought to carry out its operations in Nigeria in a responsible manner…” (ShellNews.net) 3 Dec 04
By Mike Oduniyi, 12.03.2004
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) yesterday rejected the resolution of the Senate that it should pay $1.5 billion compensation to Ijaw Aborigenes. Shell said the Senate cannot usurp the constitutional powers of the court to adjudicate in disputes.
In a press statement issued yesterday, Shell said pronouncing judgement and awarding compensation in a matter of disputes between parties was clearly outside the jurisdiction of the National Assembly.
The company said it believed the issue is better resolved by dialogue with the communities or through the law courts.
The Committee on Compliance with Senate Resolution had on Wednesday threatened to nationalise the SPDC over the company’s non-compliance with the concurrent resolution of the National Assembly that it pay a compensation of $1.5 billion to Ijaw Aborigenes of Bayelsa State for the oil spillage and pollution that have occurred over the years on the people's land.
In its reaction to the threat, Shell described the recommendations by the National Assembly, as being contrary to the due process indicated by the Nigerian constitituion. This position, said the oil firm, had already been made known in a letter by its legal representatives to the Senate Committee Chairman, Senator John Brambaifa.
“They are matters that are within the competence and jurisdiction of the courts, in which judicial powers have been vested,” said Shell. “As it were, all the activities embarked upon by both the House of Representatives and the Senate as aforesaid, and the resolutions passed in that regard, have proceeded contrary to the due process of law, as enunciated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. They are accordingly null and void, and of no legal effect whatsoever,” the company added.
The committee was also informed in the said letter that Shell’s position is that it “cannot accept or comply with the said resolutions. “For the avoidance of any doubt, we state that our clients have rejected the said resolutions in their entirety, and so have they also rejected the demand contained in your letter under reference for their compliance with the same. "We wish to correct the erroneous impression that SPDC, operators of the NNPC/Shell/ Elf/Agip joint venture, pioneers in oil and gas production over 60 years, is an arrogant company and pose any threats to national security.
“SPDC maintains that it is a responsible corporate citizen, and that it has over the years sought to carry out its operations in Nigeria in a responsible manner and in compliance with the regulations issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources and other regulatory agencies, and in accordance with the best international standards available. We have been doing, and we will continue to do, all that is possible and practicable to discharge its economic, social and environmental responsibilities to all its stakeholders," stated the company,
It would be the second time in about one year that Shell, Nigeria’s biggest oil producer, will be in a running battle with the National Assembly.
Last year, the company had a face off with the federal legislature after the law makers took a resolution over the ownership of a deep offshore oil block that was being contested by a local oil firm, Malabu Oil and Gas.
The House had then resolved to sanction Shell for the oil block OPL 245 which the Federal Government withdrew from Malabu and awarded to Shell after a re-bid.
Meanwhile, Shell also yesterday, said that a leak has been reported along the 18-inch Assa-Rumuekpe pipeline at Egbeda community in Rivers State. Shell said the incident was reported on November 27, 2004 and all efforts by SPDC response/repair teams mobilised to the leak points since November 29 have been frustrated by community militants.
SPDC said it was prevented from carrying out the usual joint investigation visit (JIV) and is therefore unable to determine cause of the incident and volume of spill at this point.
While efforts to secure access to the spill site were on-going, some unknown persons set fire to two leak points while a spill containment contractor SPDC despatched to site was denied access. The contractor was chased away by the youths, it said.
It added that the militants also seized two of the company’s vehicles.
One of the seizures occurred while the Emohua Local Council chairman and a Civil Service Commissioner were trying to mediate in the crisis. The Rivers State Government agencies have been approached to intervene in the interest of safety of lives and the environment, it added.