PH – Banking activities were disrupted on Tuesday at the First Bank headquarters on Aba road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
This was following the enforcement of a Supreme Court ruling of November 27, 2020 by the people of Ejamah –Ebubu community.
The court had ordered First Bank to pay 210 billion naira compensation to the community after the Bank stood as guarantor for Shell Petroleum Development Company in a legal suit they had with the community over an oil spill in 2001.
The Supreme Court had in its judgement in 2001, ordered First Bank to ppay the said sum to the community as compensation.
The protesters were threatening to dismantle the property of the Bank and seal off the premises if it fails to pay the money.
According to the community’s lawyer, Emmanuel Asido who led the enforcement team, it is appalling that after all these years, the bank was yet to pay the compensation.
He debunked insinuations that they were on a protest, stating that they were taking ownership of the court ruling.
“First Bank should stop telling lies to people that this is a protest. It is really unprofessional for anyone especially lawyers, to say this is a protest. This is not a protest. It is execution of judgement. First Bank is aware that having taken the position of judgement debtors by providing their sacred instrument of guarantee which was signed by none less than their company managing director and secretary at the time, they are obliged to entirely honour this bank guarantee. So the court has given the writ of execution for the execution of the entire judgement sum from First Bank in view of their undertaking placed before the Court of the land,” he said.
The paramount ruler of Ejamah-Ebubu community, His Royal Highness, George Osarobo -Osaro said the oil spill has caused untold hardship for the people for over thirty-one years.
“We are gathered here to enforce the judgement we sought and obtained on behalf of the community from all the courts up-to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Our call is summarized in that judgement which has been delivered by the court in our favor. And it is for First Bank as the guarantor of the defendant we had this case with, to pay us the money they guaranteed on behalf of Shell. It has really been quite a pathetic experience my people has been passing through for the past 31 years,” he lamented.
TNC correspondent reports that customers and staff of First Bank were chased out of the bank and that effort to speak to the stranded officials of the First bank proved abortive as they refused to speak to the press.