The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling stopping oil major Shell from selling its assets in Nigeria until a dispute over a 2019 oil spill is resolved between the company and a community in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
In March, a high court had barred Shell from any asset sale in the country until a decision is reached on the dispute. Eighty-eight communities in Rivers State were awarded $1.95bn compensation for an oil spill they blamed on Shell and which damaged their farms and waterways.
Shell, which denied causing the spill, appealed the compensation verdict and the ruling blocking the sale of its assets.
The ruling comes as the court of appeal sitting in Owerri ordered the managing director and the other three management staff of SPDC to appear before it over contempt of court.
The court of appeal sitting had expressed displeasure with the management of Shell for disobeying two court rulings against the company over the payment of the penalty.
However, the management staff of Shell approached the apex court, seeking a stay of the execution of the decision until the appeal is determined.
The company then went on to advertise for bids for the assets after filing the appeal.
But the Supreme Court, in a ruling ordered the parties to “maintain status quo” until a hearing of all applications from Shell and the communities involved in the case.