Court summons SPDC, eight staff members over alleged tax evasion

Shell Petroleum Development Company

A high Court sitting in Yenagoa, yesterday ordered the management of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and eight of its senior staff to appear before the state Physical Planning and Development Tribunal over alleged evasion of levies and taxes payable to the Bayelsa State government.

Counsel to the SPDC, Dafe Akpedeye (SAN), had approached the state High Court with two prayers bothering on an order of certiorari with regards the tribunal’s lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that the applicants did not serve the notice properly.

He also prayed for is an order prohibiting the tribunal from compelling his clients to appear before it without first determining the notice of preliminary objections on their merits.

Akpedeye filed the objections on seven grounds before the High Court.However, counsel to the state and the State Attorney-General, Kemesuode Wodu, urged the Court to dismiss the two prayers of the defendants, arguing that when a charge is made against a corporate entity like the SPDC and its staff, the suit cannot be entertained in their absence.

“When such cases are brought against anyone, they must first appear physically before the Tribunal to raise their objections,” Wodu stated.The Presiding Judge of the State High Court, Justice Young Ogola, dismissed the objection raised by the counsel to the respondents and ordered that SPDC and the eight senior staff physically appear before the Tribunal before they can raise any objections.

Justice Ogola maintained that the SPDC and the indicted members of staff must appear at the state Physical Planning and Development Tribunal before they can raise their objections.

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