Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partner Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited on Monday was charged cumulative damages of N81.9 billion by the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria.
They were charged the sum of N42.8 billion as damages for intangible losses, N21.9 billion special damages as annotated and N10 billion as general damages.
The court ordered the judgement debt to be paid to the oil-producing communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State within 14 days from the day the judgment was delivered Taiwo said failure to make payment on the date attracts 8 percent interest on the principal sum annually.
The trial Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that the negligence of Mobil and NNPC caused environmental degradation in the communities.
He expressed his disappointment at NNPC for being interested in the revenue generations from the oil exploration at the expense of the lives of the people in the communities as a result of their water and land being polluted through crude oil leakages from old oil pipelines.
He said he noted Mobil’s claims that it did clean up exercise and held that the American company failed to address the compensation that would have mitigated the economic losses of the people, who are mainly fishermen and farmers.
The court held that the oral and documentary evidence produced by Mobil company was not in any way helpful to the court as they were targeted at serving the predetermined interest and that both Mobil and NNPC were negligent by their failure to visit places of the crude oil leakages that led to the contamination of rivers and creeks in the communities.
The Ibeno communities, led by Obong Effiong Archianga and nine others had, through their lawyers, Chief Lucius Nwosu (SAN) brought the action against NNPC, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and ExxonMobil Corporation seeking about N100 billion compensation for economic losses suffered from oil spillages caused by the defendants during exploration.
The third defendant was however deleted from the court action when the court found out that there was no cause of action against it.