The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal brought by NVT Power & Energy Ltd, an energy production and distribution corporation, against a verdict rendered in favour of roughly eight towns in Rivers State.
In a judgement, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun dismissed the appeal marked: SC/CV/849/2022 brought against the June 7, 2022 ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt striking out.
The highest court’s ruling rejecting the appeal was issued on November 4, and of which a certified true copy (CTC) was received on Friday, following an application by NVT Power to drop the petition.
Opu-Benibo Granville Community, Orubibi Douglas Community, Blackduke Oweredaba Community, Ajumogobia -Bestman Community, Oruwari Community, Siri Young Jack Community, Don-Pedro Community, and Member Community, all of which are located in Abonnema Kingdom, Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, sued the firm in October 2020 at the High Court of Rivers State sitting in Port-Harcourt.
The communities asked the court to compel the firm to negotiate with them and “pay forthwith to their attorney/legal representative all agreed accruals, benefits, and compensation that are due to the claimant’s communities as a result of the defendant’s activities, operations, and facilities within the claimant’s communities’ lands.”
Later, the parties reached an agreement on settlement terms, which Justice A. Enebeli accepted as the court’s consent decision in the matter on June 2, 2020.
The settlement agreement stated that the communities, “as independent, autonomous communities and the location of the defendant’s various facilities and activities, are entitled to participate and benefit directly from all accruals, rents, contracts, development and economic empowerment, compensation, environmental clean-up, scholarships, and economic empowerment projects undertaken by all companies, including the defendant, for their host communities in Abonne.”
They were also to be “included in any agreements and other Global Memorandum of Understanding to be formed or entered into between the defendant and its host communities in Abonnema Kingdom in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria.”
The firm was ordered to negotiate with the communities through their lawyers “and pay forthwith to their attorney/legal representative all agreed accruals, benefits, and compensation that are due to the claimant’s communities as a result of the defendant’s activities, operations, and facilities on the claimants’ lands in Abonnema Kingdom, Akuku Toru Local Government, and Rivers State of Nigeria.”
Justice Enebeli then ordered NVT to pay N1million to each of the eight communities, a provision of the consent ruling that the business challenged at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt.
On June 7, 2022, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt, chaired by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, ruled that NVT’s appeal was incompetent since it was submitted without first requesting permission from the court.
NVT then appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Nigeria Supreme Court, which it later withdrew and which the court rejected in its November 4 judgement.