June 18, 2009

Shell dragged to court over land compensation in Ughelli

By Evelyn Usman
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has been dragged before a Delta State High Court sitting in Ughelli over alleged  non payment of compensation due to Egheruaye quarters of Ughelli North Local government area of the state.

In a suit filed by the concerned community members against the oil giant, the plaintiffs  prayed the court to restrain Shell Development Company to discontinue payment of the compensation due to them to Eruemukohwarien and to also restrain some members of the opposing community from maltreating their people.

The oil company was accused of non payment of  compensation on the land acquired from the community for 35 years. Rather the compensation, according to the plaintiffs, was being payed to Eruemukohwarien quarters, another community within the same local government, an action they described as injustice, null and void.

The plaintiffs averred in their motions that they have not only been dispossessed of their land by the company but also deprived of what was due to them as compensation over the years.

In their writ of summons, the plaintiffs, Joseph Abinogun and Monday Akpasheri, representing themselves and entire members of Egheruaye Quarters, further prayed the court to grant them an order directing the defendants, especially the oil company, to render account  of all monies due to them but paid to other persons between January 24th, 1974 till date.

Egheruaye Quarters further urged the court to grant an order of injunction  restraining Shell Development Company  from further paying monies due to them  as compensation on the land  to the defendants or any persons  except them, just as they prayed the court  to particularly restrain Timothy Igben,  Darosha Emesa and George Idogun  who are 8th, 9th and 10th defendants respectively  from maltreating, discriminating and witch hunting the plaintiffs or doing any act whatsoever  capable  of prejudicing the plaintiffs.

Defendants in the case apart from SDPC are representatives of Eruemukohwarien Community including Monday Akakporo, George Etinagbedia, Alfred Serumeh, Austen Ewenode and Festus Igben. Others are Lucky Erhire, Timothy Igben, Darosha Imesa and George Idogun.

The Plaintiffs averred that being the customary tenants dispossessed of their land by Shell Development Company as a result of acquisition, they are the persons entitled to the compensation being paid by Shell Development Company in respect of the land and not Eruemukohwarien Community.

The defendants in the suit are expected to enter appearance within 30 days after service with the writ of summons, failure which the court may enter judgment in the case.