The Federal Government has told an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, that its decision not to renew the operating license of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), was in the interest of the nation’s security.
The oil giant in the legal action is seeking an order of the court to compel the Federal Government, to grant or renew its Oil Mining Lease (OML)11.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the 15th of August, 2019, the counsel to the Federal Government, Mohammed Diri, while objecting to the suit, said the primary objective of any responsible government, is to guarantee the safety of lives and properties, adding that the refusal to renew OML 11 was a pre-emptive measure to prevent the occurrence or escalation of security breach in the Ogoni area of Rivers state.
SDPC, in its suit, is seeking to compel the Minister of Petroleum Resources, to renew OML 11, in addition to 14 other oil mining leases, approved for it in June 30, 2019.
The Federal Government said OML 11 covered an area of 3,095.25 square kilometres, that stretched between Rivers and Imo states with 14 oilfields, 10 out of which is located in the Ogoni area.
It argued that besides the security challenges, SPDC is trying to compel the government to commit an illegality, because an approval by the Minister of State for Petroleum, of a single oil block size of 3, 095.25 is tantamount to facilitating illegality in contravention of the Regulation (Drilling and Production), which limits the size of OML block to 1.295 square kilometers (500 miles).
The Federal Government therefore urged the judge to hold that the SPDC suit is devoid of merit and suffered incurable legal deficiency, and should be dismissed.
However, hearing on the matter was adjourned to Friday, the 16th of August, 2019, to enable the government respond to issues of facts raised by the plaintiff in its further and better affidavit.
Diri had told the Court that he has not seen the further affidavit, and reply, which the SPDC counsel, Funke Adekoya (SAN) told the court was served on the respondents last Friday.