Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court Abuja, has granted an order, mandating the Central Bank of Nigeria to release the sum of N81.9 billion standing to the credit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and its joint venture partner, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, in its custody to oil producing communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Justice Taiwo gave the order on Monday in a judgment in a suit instituted by aggrieved oil communities ravaged by oil spillage.
The Ibeno communities led by Obong Effiong Archianga and nine others, had brought an action against NNPC, Mobil and Exxon Mobil corporation seeking about N100 billion compensation for economic losses suffered from oil spillages caused by the defendants during exploration.
The oil communities had gone to court to seek redress over oil spillage in the area, which they claimed had caused environmental degradation in their communities.
Consequently, in a judgment on June 21, 2021, Justice Taiwo made an order, awarding the cost of N81.9 billion to the plaintiffs, who are now judgement creditors.
The court had ordered that the money must be paid within 14 days after which eight percent interest will be accruable on the principal sum annually.
On December 15, 2021, in a garnishee nisi proceeding, the apex bank had insisted that it had to get the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, before enforcing the garnishee judgment.
However, in a judgement on Monday, Justice Taiwo dismissed the claim of the CBN and ordered it to release funds belonging to the NNPC and Mobil to the tune of N82 billion to the judgement creditor.
The court said it was wrong for the apex bank to say it had to get consent from the AGF before attaching the judgment debt, insisting the apex bank is not a public officer.
Justice Taiwo noted that coming into force of the Petroleum Industry Act, had altered the name of the judgement debtor.