On Friday 2nd December, 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria heard an application by Shell Petroleum through their Lawyers, for an order allowing them to amend their Notice of Appeal by adding more grounds on which to challenge the earlier order of Mareva injunction granted by the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, restraining Shell from disposing of its onshore and offshore assets in Nigeria.

They also sought to challenge the order of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division directing Shell Petroleum to deposit the entire judgment debt of N800 Billion (about $1.9 billion) into an interest yielding escrow account controlled by the Court of Appeal, pending the outcome of the substantive appeal, as a condition for stay of execution of the judgment of Ringim J in favour of the Egbalor Community in Eleme LGA of Rivers State in November 2020, arising from a devastating oil spill from Shell’s pipelines passing through their community.

The Leading Counsel to the Egbalor Community, Mohammed Ndarani Mohammed SAN had challenged the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to hear the application filed by Shell Petroleum on the ground that they failed to seek and obtain the leave of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court before filing the interlocutory applications as required by law.

In a considered ruling, the Supreme Court of Nigeria opted to allow all the parties to the case to present robust legal arguments in support of their respective positions in respect of the two appeals filed by Shell Petroleum against the Mareva injunction and the order to deposit the judgment debt in Court as a condition for stay of execution. The Supreme Court therefore gave the parties 30 days from 2nd December 2022 to file and exchange briefs of argument in respect of these two appeals. The exact date for hearing of the interlocutory applications will be communicated to the parties via hearing notices to be issued by the Registry of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, ostensibly before the end of January, 2023.