Thousands Nigerians sue Shell devastating their communities

Thousands of Nigerians sue Shell for devastating their communities

10:37 AM, 6th December 2016
Farmers and fisherman sue the company over decades of oil spill.
Farmers and fisherman sue the company over decades of oil spill.

OGONILAND, NIGERIA: With contaminant water in hand the Nigerian king, Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi is taking on the world’s second biggest energy company Royal Dutch Shell to a London court. The tribal king is part of a group about 40000 Nigerians demanding action for the oil giant after oil spills destroyed their community for decades.

But how did it come to this?

According to Al Jazeera (a media company), the fight between the people of Ogoniland (an oil rich community in Niger Delta) and Shell has been going on for more than 2 decades. 

  • In 1956 Shell discovered a large oil field in the Niger Delta and started exporting oil 2 years later. The Nigerian government said there have been more than 7000 oil spills between 1970 & 2000. They turned the once fertile farmland into a toxic wasteland.
  • 1993 The movement for the survival of the Ogoni people organized large protests against Shell. Claiming very little of the money earned on their land was getting to the people who live there. The government shut down the protests violently. Which resulted in the militarization of the Niger Delta.
  • 1995 protest leader Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian government. Shell was accused of collaborating in his execution and agreed to a $15 million settlement of the case in 2009.
  • Armed groups began tapping pipelines and kidnapping oil staff in 2006. In 2008 and 2009 massive oil spills made the situation worse and destroyed the farmland of the 2 communities that are now sueing Shell.
  • In 2011, they unreleased a report saying it would take 30 years for the environment to recover.
  • 2013 a Dutch court ruled that the Shell is liable for the pollution in the Niger Delta.

“There are strange diseases in my community, people are dying, some died. All of a sudden now some people are imported, we are dying we need the courts to compel Shell to take immediate action and implement the United Nations report. They’re very specific, go provide them water, go take medical history go and see what you’ve done, it’s very specific, in English language, not in any other language, so Shell cannot pretend they don’t know these,” said Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, king of Ogale, Niger Delta region told CCTV news.

In 2011 reports by the UN environmental programme, there were dangerously high levels of hydrocarbons in the water and poor air quality. Problems they say it can take 25 to 30 years to resolve.

Shell insist the areas have been heavily impacted by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant also argues that the case should be heard back in the Nigeria, where its subsidiary SPDC wants a joint venture with the government, but many believe it is impossible to defeat the company on Nigerian soil.

“There is no vandalism going on in Ogale, there is no violence on Shell pipeline, the problem of the leakage in Ogale is due to the poor integrity of the facility. Now, the only alternative or remedy for the people of Ogale is the British legal system, after this, we are finished,” added Emere Godwin.

Shell subsidiary in Nigeria insists it has delivered water and health care to the community. And is supporting $1 billion oil pollution cleanup programme launched in the Niger Delta this June. In January 2015 Shell agreed to pay more than $80 million to a fishing community in the region following a case brought in London.

In December, the Dutch court committed 4 Nigerian farmers and fisherman to sue the company for environmental pollution, potentially opening the door to other cases to be brought in the Netherlands.

But losing a case in London could set a dangerous example for the company.

© Worldofchemicals News

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