Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike on Thursday directed that the Kidney Island property occupied by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC in execution of its joint Venture with Nigeria National Petroleum Company, NNPC, sealed by the state government some days ago should be immediately unsealed.
The Governor, in a press statement signed by Kelvin Ebiri, his Special Assistant (Media) said the decision to unseal the facility followed a meeting between Wike and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kolo Kyari, in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Ebiri added in the statement that the NNPC GMD commended Wike and the Government of Rivers State for their cooperation, while further discussion to resolve dispute over the property will continue.
A government’s delegation led by the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacheus Adangor, had sealed the property based on an alleged court ruling in favour of the state government earlier in the week.
However, SPDC, had dismissed the purported takeover of the property as it argued that it is still the subject of ongoing litigation at the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt.
SPDC had therefore argued that the sealing of Kidney Island asset or other assets of the SPDC JV was premature and prejudicial to the ongoing court proceedings, and therefore not recognised.
SPDC said “Under the Nigerian Petroleum Act, any acquisition or assignment of interests in a licence or lease would require the consent of the Minister of Petroleum. No such consent has been given in the case of the purported acquisition by the Rivers State Government.
In addition, the ruling of the Supreme Court on 27 November 2020 did not decide liability or the size of the award in the underlying suit of Chief Ogbara & Others Vs SPDC neither did the ruling affirm the purported sale of SPDC JV’s assets to the River State Government as being claimed by the state.
“SPDC pointed out that there’s is a pending litigation by SPDC in which the Federal High Court has issued an interim order restraining further enforcement of the underlying Agbara judgment pending the hearing of the motion on notice fixed for hearing on 14 January 2021
“SPDC therefore calls on the Rivers State Government and those claiming interest in the SPDC Kidney Island asset to stay further action to allow the due process of the law as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“We remain of the view that until the pending appeals are heard and determined, any exercise of rights including any attempt to take over or seal up SPDC JV’s assets by the Rivers State Government is premature and unlawful.