According to open and undisputed sources , the federal government of Nigeria commissioned the Lagos-based law firm Johnson & Johnson, whose principal partner is Babatunde Olabide Johnson, to represent it in the lawsuit filed against Eni and Shell in Italy and other countries. Johnson & Johnson is reported to have drawn up an agreement for the covering of legal costs with the American firm Poplar Falls, founded in 2016 in Delaware by Maryland-based offshore fund Drumcliffe Partners, which specialises in financing lawsuits for debt recovery.
Under this agreement, Poplar Falls is reported to have paid $2.75 million in advance to Johnson & Johnson in exchange for the right to a repayment of more than double the amount over – and this is the most controversial point – 35 per cent of any sums recovered by the Nigerian state. If the claims of the Nigerian plaintiff were ever upheld by the Court of Milan, Poplar Falls would collect a premium in excess of $350 million – an unjustifiably large sum.
Under section 1782 of Title 28 of the United States Code, which obliges American companies to make available the documentation required by other companies to defend themselves outside the United States, Eni requested the Delaware District Court to order Drumcliffe to produce the documents relating to its agreements with Nigerian subjects.
The Delaware Court judge granted Eni’s request.
Further developments are awaited.