Folake Sokoya

Nigerians recently decried the prevalence in the disrespect of court orders aided by the same people who are supposed to be the custodians of the law.


The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh SAN in a media chat about a month ago, said there is the need for all to respect the rule of law by respecting court orders. “Disobedience to court orders by any institution/corporate entity like Shell is not only offensive to the tenants of constitutional democracy, worrisome and can cause anarchy for the nation and its future generation. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. This is because those who are not affected today may be the people to be affected tomorrow.” Alegeh said.


On Friday, December 16, 2016, the Bailiffs from the National Industrial Court of Lagos Division were at Shell’s Office, Marina Lagos for the enforcement of a valid court judgment in a case between Tunde Adjoto a victimized staff of its security department and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC). With the Court Bailiffs were a team of police officers from the SCID, Panti officially assigned by the Commissioner of Police for the duty of police protection for the team from the court, a journalist and the claimant whom the Bailiffs choose to go with for proper identification of Shell properties.


The team arrived Shell (Freeman House building) at 11am and were screened into the reception but the journalist was bluntly refused entry. She was apparently refused ingress just because they realized that she was a journalist. Shell immediately deployed her Spy police officers and some men from the Nigeria Police Dog section to reinforce the entrance to the reception.


While at the reception, the Bailiffs introduced themselves to the receptionists and demanded to speak with the head or someone from the Legal department.  The team was left unattended to for over 30 minutes as no one came down to speak them. After some efforts by the Bailiffs, One Mrs. Folashade Moyo-Folayi a Shell staff came forward, with two other shell staffs, one Miss Remi Coker and an unidentified male lawyer from Seyi Sowemimo SAN chambers to the reception.


The court Bailiffs introduced themselves stating that they are there to execute a monetary court judgment delivered by Hon. Justice K.I. Amadi of the National Industrial Court since September 2014 in favor of the claimant Tunde Adjoto pursuant to section 15 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act 2014.


Mrs. Folashade Moyo- Folayi who introduced herself as a lawyer put forth an argument claiming that Shell has an Appeal at the Supreme Court on the matter. The Court Bailiffs demanded the proof that will not enable the team to execute the valid and enforceable court judgment which Shell is doing its best to evade.


No sooner did Mr. Isaac Boro counsel to the claimant came into Shell reception to meet the argument. He intervened by explaining to Mrs. Moyo- Folayi and her team that there is no pending motion at the Supreme Court for stay of execution, with regards to the particular judgment, to his knowledge. He went further to tell them that an Appeal does not in itself constitute a stay of execution despite a clear and unambiguous explanations by lawyer Boro, Shell, and its lawyers took a position in blatant disrespect for Court orders through unnecessary arguments and scheming.

This lasted for another three hours and at this juncture; the Bailiffs were left with no other option than to move to Shell (Far Marina Car Park) to take over some properties worth the judgment sum of Eleven Million, Three Hundred and Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Four Naira, Twenty-eight Kobo (N11, 309, 444. 28k).



Again, Shell and its lawyer deployed more police officers to their Far Marina Car Park in an attempt to obstruct the court Bailiffs. This time, the Shell police spy commanding officer, Mr. Felix Ogunnubi, the security manager, Rasaq Shodeko, the head media department Mr. Precious Okolobo, Mr. Osai and a host of other shell staffs came to the car park with numerous photographers in a bid to intimidate the Bailiffs in words and otherwise with Mrs. Moyo- Folayi dictating the affairs of the day. They put up a serious tactical resistance but eventually allowed the Bailiffs entry into the car park.


The lead Bailiff then invited the claimant, Mr. Adjoto inside the car park as his pointer to help identify cars that are owned by Shell through the stickers pasted on the windscreen because, Shell Lawyers and staffs were apparently not cooperating with the Bailiffs who were on an official duty with claims that some cars are on lease and does not belong to Shell. The Bailiffs were able to pick five cars for possible auction in the event that Shell defaults in paying the judgment sum to the claimant within the stipulated date by law.

After the selection with some level of resistance and intimidation from Shell lawyer and her team, they bluntly refused to release the car keys to the Bailiffs to move the cars to the National Industrial Court premises in Ikoyi.


The Bailiffs had to bring in two towing vans to help tow the cars but Shell locked their barriers to prevent the towing vans from entering. At about 4:00 pm. Mrs. Moyo-Folayi came up with tactics that Shell was ready to pay the money into the NICN Account. The Bailiffs conferred with the Deputy Sheriff via a phone call and he advised Shell to credit the Claimant Tunde Adjoto’s account, being the Judgment Creditor in the suit.

SPDC lawyer at this point again made a volt that she wants to arrange for the drivers to convey the cars to National Industrial Court.


While all these scheming and tactical delays were going on in Shell premises, information had it that Seyi Sowemimo SAN had rushed to the National Industrial court, while Shell authorities also busied themselves in making high-powered calls to burgle and truncate the execution process, an attempt that eventually succeeded because the Deputy Sheriff called his men on the field to stall action while he gets back to them in five minutes. These supposed five minutes took another ninety minutes. At exactly 5:27 pm, the Bailiffs received a telephone call from their boss, the Deputy Sheriff ordering them to ‘stand down’ and return to the office. This was how Seyi Sowemimo SAN, Shell, and its agents corruptly used financial might in thwarting the concerted efforts at enforcing a court judgment of September 26, 2014.       


Like in the case of Late Ken Sarowiwa, the human rights activist, Shell is again on another oppressive and suppressive mission of an innocent and diligent employee who had spent his vibrant youthful years in serving the company, not just leaving him with no reward but subjecting him and his entire families to inhuman torture and untold hardship both physically and mentally.


The question is what suddenly happened to twist the arm of the law? For how long will the judiciary continue like this? Can this be the true Nigeria the founding father laid their lives down for? Only time will tell.”

But the Judiciary against all odds must rise to the rescue of this helpless and traumatized staff from the hands of Shell’s financial might, its agents, and Seyi Sowemimo SAN so that his case will not end like that of the Ogoni nine (9).


Meanwhile, efforts by the journalist that was barred from entering Shell building to speak with SPDC senior staffs and their Lawyer, Mrs. Moyo- Folayi proved abortive, as they all declined to comment on the issue leaving her with the notion that Shell is indeed having something to hide.

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