A Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Yenagoa on Monday ordered the authorities of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), along with eight members of the management staff, to appear before the State Physical Planning and Development Tribunal over an alleged case of levy evasion filed by the State Government.
Dafe Akpedeye, counsel to the SPDC, and the eight management staff of the company had approached the State High Court requesting an order of certiorari, arguing that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction on the grounds of improper service of the applicants.
They also requested an order prohibiting the tribunal to compel the applicants to appear before it without first determining the merits of the notice of preliminary objections.
Mr. Akpedeye filed the objections on seven grounds before the High Court,
The counsel to the State and the State Attorney-General, Kemesuode Wodu, urged the court to dismiss the two prayers of the applicants, arguing that when a charge is made against a comparative body such as the SPDC and its staff without their presence, an objection to the suit cannot be entertained.
According to Mr. Wodu, “when such cases are brought against you, you first appear physically before they tribunal and raise your objections.”
The presiding judge of the State High Court, Justice Young Ogola, subsequently ordered that the oil multinationals and the eight senior staff make a physical appearance before the tribunal before filing objections.
According to Justice Ogola, “the applicants must appear at the State Physical Planning and Development Tribunal before they can raise objections.”