A bond deal of N122 billion gone awry has shockingly earned the Chairman
of First Bank Plc, Ms. Ibukun Awosika, a suspended prison sentence from a
Federal High Court in Lagos.
Trouble started for Awosika, her bank and her Managing Director, Dr.
Adesola Adeduntan, following First Bank’s inability to honour the payment
of N122 billion bond guaranteed by the bank in a judgment debt against
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
The N122 billion is a spin-off from an oil spill suit instituted by Ejama
Community in Ogoniland, Rivers State. It would be recalled that 10
indigenes of Ejama Community had at the Federal High Court in Port
Harcourt sued Royal Dutch Shell Plc Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell Plc
United Kingdom and SPDC over alleged oil spills that occurred when Shell
operated in the community.
Justice Ibrahim Buba had in his judgment in 2010 awarded N17 billion to
the representatives of the Ogoni people.
The court had equally granted the Ejema Chiefs 25 per cent interest charge
on the principal sum of about N17 billion. Shell had then appealed against
the judgment and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending
the appeal. As a condition for granting the stay of execution, the court
required Shell’s bankers, First Bank Plc, to provide a guarantee of the
This condition was complied with. But Shell’s appeal failed at the Court
of Appeal on technical grounds, ostensibly because it filed its processes
out of time and without regularising them.
Consequent upon the failure of the appeal and the refusal of First Bank to
honour the payment of judgment debt which the bank had early guarantee
through a bond, the applicants, through their lawyers, Chief Lucius Nwosu
(SAN), A.A. Lawal -Rabana (SAN) and Ken C. Njemanze (SAN) filed Form 48
and Form 49 (committal to prison) against the bank, its chairman and
In convicting First Bank, its chairman, and managing director, Justice
Buba had dismissed all the applications filed by the bank’s counsel Chief
Wole Olanipekun (SAN), describing contempt proceedings as abuse of court
process and being statue bar.
However, Justice Ibrahim Buba suspended the serving term of conviction of
the bank and its officials for three months to enable them purge
themselves of the contempt.
The judge held that if by September 6 2018 the convicts failed to purge
themselves of the contempt proceedings, they shall immediately be sent to