Unpaid N80.3 billion: Ogoni picket bank, demand payment for oil spill

The Ogoni demand the implementation of a court judgement.

Banking activities at First Bank Area office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was disrupted on Wednesday as protesting members of Ogoni ethnic group in the state picketed the bank.

The over 1000 protesters picketed the bank to push for the payment of N80.3 billion to Ogoni community by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in connection with an oil spill.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had ordered SPDC to pay N80. 3 billion to Ogoni community for the oil spill in the area.

Simeon Monokpo, leader of the group, said in an interview that his group was at the bank before 6.00 a.m. to picket it and stop banking activities.

“Our protest is in respect of the court judgment in our favour by the high court which ordered Shell to pay the community N80.3 billion and first bank was the company’s guarantor in the trial.

He said the money was expected to be deposited with the bank by SPDC while its appeal went on, but the appeal had since failed.

“So, we are demanding that being the guarantor to Shell, the bank should pay us the money.

“We are saying that First bank should wire that money into the account of the community, represented by Barrister Henry Nwaosu.

“The court order we got on Thursday directed First bank to pay us the money forthwith,” Mr. Monokpo said.

Mr. Monokpo said that the picketing would not only continue, but would be extended to all the branches of First Bank in Rivers if the money was not paid.

“We shall extend this demonstration (picketing) to all First Bank branches in the state if we are not paid; and the bank will not operate until the authorities obey the court order by paying us,’’ he said.

The protesters deposited a white coffin bearing a live chick and a bottle of Fanta on top at the bank entrance, which signified burial, while the locked gates were sealed with fresh palm fronts.

Mr. Monokpo said that the gods in the community were annoyed with SPDC’s conducts in Ogoni land.

The major spill took place 20 years ago in Ebubu Village in Eleme Local Government Area.



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