Journalism of Courage

Mobil to pay out N81.9bn to settle Ibeno oil spill claims in 14 days

Justice Taiwo held that Mobil were "negligent in the way and manner they handled oil spills" at Ibeno

A Federal High Court in Abuja, has ordered Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to pay N81.9 billion as cumulative damages to the oil communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom over oil spillage within 14 days.

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo warned that failure to pay within the stipulated time would attract an accruable interest of 8% on the principal sum annually, Persecondnews reports.

Ibeno communities led by Obong Effiong Archianga and nine others had through their lawyers, Chief Lucius Nwosu (SAN) instituted a legal action against NNPC, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and ExxonMobil Corporation.

They had sought for about N100 billion compensation for economic losses suffered from oil spillage caused by the defendants during exploration at Ibeno.

Justice Taiwo held that Mobil were “negligent in the way and manner they handled oil spills”.

While acknowledging the claims of Mobil that it did clean up exercise, Justice Taiwo, however, held that the oil giant failed to address the compensation that would have mitigated the economic losses of the people said to be mainly fishermen and farmers.

He held that the oral and documentary evidence produced by Mobil Company were not in any way helpful to the court as they were targeted at serving predetermined interest.

The judge also held that both Mobil and NNPC were negligent by their failure to visit places of the leakages of the crude oil that led to the contamination of rivers and creeks inside Ibeno

He rejected the claims of the Mobil joint venture partner — NNPC — that the suit was statute-barred in 2012 when it was filed by the aggrieved plaintiffs.

The suit had to do with fundamental rights that cannot be rendered impotent by the statute of limitations, Taiwo ruled.

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