The four communities – Obotobo, Sokebolo, Ofogbene (Ezon Burutu) and Ekeremor Zion (Ezon Asa) – had, through some of their leaders, instituted separate suits against the oil company before the then Bendel State High Court in 1983.
A High Court in the then Bendel State had in a judgment on May 27, 1997, asked Shell to pay the sum of N4,095,085 to Obotobo; N13,278,306 to Sokebolo; N7,392,589 to Ofogbene (Ezon Burutu) and N5,522,701 to Ekeremor Zion (Ezon Asa). But Shell were dissatisfied with the judgement and took the case to the court of Appeal.On May 22, 2000, the Court of Appeal in Benin City dismissed Shell’s appeal and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
Once again, a dissatisfied Shell, further appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Justice John Fabiyi-led panel of the Apex Court dismissed the appeal filed by Shell on Friday holding that the appeal lacked merit, awarded N500,000 cost against Shell and in favour of each of the communities.
Justice Kumai Akaahs, who read the lead judgment, also held that the damages awarded in favour of the communities were not baseless.
Other members of the panel – Justice John Fabiyi, Clara Ogunbiyi, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun and Chima Nweze – agreed with the lead judgment.