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ThisDayOnline (Nigeria): Shell/EFCC: Court Adjourns to October 5

By Davidson Iriekpen, 10.03.2007

A Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday adjourned till October 5, trial in the case brought before it by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria Ltd, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed adjourned the matter for trial,  to enable the counsel to the EFCC, Mr Femi Falana, regularise his defence filed out of time. The judge therefore, asked Falana to formally file the application before the court today, while the application would be taken on Friday this week.

“Since the whole of this week is slated for hearing of the matter, Falana would  file his defence properly tomorrow (today) while the application would be taken on Friday to regularise the application,” the judge said.

Counsel to Shell, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, had told the count that  defence of the first defendant was only served on him on Friday, September 28, adding  that it was filed out of time.

He added that though he had filed his reply to defence but the rule of the gives 14 days.

But counsel to the EFCC  attributed the delay in filing the defence to the fact that the officer in charge of the investigation was engaged outside the country, adding that based on the urgency which the court has attached to the matter, he concluded that the plaintiff would rarely not need 14 days to file a reply in a matter where the issues have been narrowed to whether Shell can be investigated or not.

The court subsequently fixed the joinder motion for Friday while it issue a hearing notice to Wema Bank Plc motion dated September 21, 2007.

The SPDC had charged the EFCC and SUFFOLK Engineering Construction Ltd to court praying it to stop the EFCC from harassing, intimidating and forcing the SPDC to pay SUFFOLK an alleged debt it owed it. 

It also wants the court to order the defendants to pay N10 million  as exemplary and /or  aggravated damages to it. 

SPDC alleged that it entered into a contract agreement with SUFFOLK on November 2001 which they failed to carry out and the matter was taken to an Arbitration Panel which  ordered SUFFLOK to pay SPDC  the sum of 656, 334. 00 US dollars and N25,000.00. 

But in a counter affidavit the EFCC alleged that it did not set out to collect debt but was only performing its statutory functions of investigating and detecting if any person or corporate body had committed an offence under the EFCC Act. 

Counsel to SPDC  Akinjide had on August 14, filed an application urging the court to stop the EFCC from further inviting, arresting investigating and intimidating any person acting on behalf of SPDC.

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=91161

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