Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed the preliminary objections filed by Chevron Nigeria and Fode Nigeria Limited against the N17 billion suit instituted by some fishermen in Bayelsa State.
Justice Buba based his refusal to grant the objections on the grounds that the suit instituted by the fishermen was competent and that the preliminary objections were baseless.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the counsel to the fishermen, Mrs. Tonbofa Eva Ashimi, the suit was instituted in 2012 by some fishermen from Koluama 1, Koluama 2, Ekeni, Ezetu 1, Ezetu 2, Foropa, Fishtown and Ikibiri in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State against Chevron Nigeria.
They are praying the court for the sum of N17, 222, 528, 441.00 as compensation for the losses they suffered due to the gas blow-out which occurred on the Chevron operated KS Endeavor Rig drilling in the Funiwa 1 gas well on the North Apoi Oil Platform on January 16, 2012.
Chevron, through its team of lawyers comprising three Senior Advocates of Nigeria including Professor Tunde Fagbohunlu, had filed an objection against the competence of the suit before Justice Buba, which the court dismissed entirely.
The statement said the counsel to the fishermen, Ashimi, of law firm of Edward Ekiyor and Co. described the ruling as erudite, adding that it was evident that “the tide is moving against belligerent oil and gas operators in the country who insist on harming their host communities without compensating the people of the communities for their losses and remediating the harmed environment.”
One of the plaintiffs, Chief Fabby Young of Koluma 1, according to the statement, commended the court ruling, saying it was in the best interest of the fishermen and justice.
The court ordered that the matter be urgently set down for hearing.