Ndarani, SAN Warns Of Shell’s Divestment Plots

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mohammed Ndarani has cautioned unsuspecting potential investors and organisations about the plans of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to sell off assets while legal disputes are ongoing.

Ndarani gave the warning in an interview with the newsmen in Minna on Saturday

According to the SAN: “This warning became imperative in view of the desperate moves by Shell to circumvent an already subsisting Federal High Court ruling obtained by Ugbo-Ilaje community in Ondo State in an N3.1 trillion suit filed against it (Shell).

“This is the more reason why our law firm, Ndarani (SAN) & Co, had on Feb. 2 published the court proceedings and the ruling in different Newspapers including The Guardian.

“Therefore, anyone or organisation that goes ahead to buy any of the property of Shell should have himself or itself to blame, “Ndarani, SAN warned.

He emphasised that, as a result of a N3.1 trillion lawsuit brought by the Ugbo-Ilaje community in Ondo State, a Federal High Court located in Akure had stopped Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) from attempting to sell any of its holdings in Nigeria.

In his ruling on an exparte motion filed by the community, he states that the presiding Judge, Justice T. B. Adegoke, restrained SPDC and four other parties from selling, allocating, vandalising, or disposing of any of their assets or properties, including official structures, oil wells, oil fields, installations, vehicles, equipment, investments, offshore or onshore, or any of its properties in any part of Nigeria.

Recall that in his decision from last year, Justice Adegoke had stated that the injunction was necessary since Shell was unwilling to back out, making the lawsuit worthless or a fruitless endeavour.

He had stated that the order would remain in effect until the outcome of the lawsuit was being processed by Ugbo-Ilaje natives, who had obtained a Mareva injunction against Shell to bring the claim against the defendants.

However, an ex-parte motion filed and argued by Mohammed Ndarani (SAN) on behalf of the applicants—Prince Afolabi Akinruntan and 1,215 others—in the Ugbo-Ilaje village in Ondo state resulted in the restraining order.

The proposal of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to sell its Nigerian onshore oil business in the middle of litigation had alarmed the plaintiffs in suit number FHC/AK/CS/68/2023.

“The plaintiffs had suit Shell International Company Limited, Shell International Exploration and Production Limited, Attorney-General of the Federation and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) as 1st – 4th respondents.

They demanded the court to force the Federal Government to thwart the oil giant’s attempt to sell off its holdings until it complies with the court’s directive.

The plaintiffs, who are requesting N3.1 trillion in damages, have urged the court to uphold their rights and mandate the restoration of the area they claim was harmed by the first and second respondents’ broken pipelines’ oil leak.

According to the applicants, “Should the verdict go in their favour, the exparte motion became imperative to stop Shell from divesting so as not to render the case nugatory or academic.”

However, the judge postponed the case until February 29 for further consideration. The judge had Shell refrain from selling or giving up any of its assets in the nation.