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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed March 9 to rule on whether to discharge the interim ex-parte order it granted freezing the bank accounts of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in 20 commercial banks.
On the same day, the court will also rule on whether it has the jurisdiction to even entertain the suit and another seeking to commit to prison the banks and its officials who were said to have disobeyed the interim ex-parte order.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo had granted the order at the instance of AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd. who is seeking to recover the cash value of “more than 16 million barrels of crude oil” allegedly diverted by Shell.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, the judge listened to arguments from lawyers to AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd., SPDC, the banks, and lawyer to four Shell subsidiaries all involved in the matter.
Arguing the application for committal, counsel to Aiteo Eastern E&P, Kemi Pinheiro, said that it was necessary that the named persons in committal proceedings (the bank officials) be present in court because the proceedings attached to their person.
He said the alleged contemnors had been served with the court processes but had not filed a response.
AITEO had specifically said that two banks and their officials disobeyed the courts interim ex-parte order.
In opposing the application, counsel to the banks, Olawale Akoni, acknowledged that they were served with the court papers on February 24 and 25, but said they were still within the time limit to file a response.