The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), Nigeria, has hailed the recent Netherlands court of appeal judgement that ordered Shell to pay compensation for causing oil spill in Nigeria.
The spill polluted rivers, fishponds, farmlands and thousands of local fish farmers across Nigeria’s coastal Communities of the Niger Delta region of the Country in 2008.
During the year, four Nigerian farmers from Ikot Ada Udo, Oruma and Goi villages in the Niger Delta supported by ERSA and sister organization — Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands, took Shell to court over the oil pollution that occurred in the three Nigerian villages.
Dr. Uyi Ojo, the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria in a Press statement signed by the Legal Officer of the Organization, Barrister Nosa Tokunbor, described the outcome of the case as a landmark judgment, adding that the organization is very proud of after 13 years of legal battle.
ERA in the Press statement stressed that there is no hiding place for the multinational company, stating that the judgement showed that the days of oil companies in Nigeria, particularly Shell criminalizing local Communities and framing them up for sabotage of crude oil pipelines are over.
According to him, “Shell no longer has any hiding place, as this victory will open up a floodgate of court cases against Shell and the oil companies doing business in Nigeria and hiding under weak regulations, lack of enforcement of its extant rules, and taking advantage of the lack of political will of the Nigerian government to bring oil transnationals to account”.
“The significance of the landmark judgement is that it addresses the question of access to justice that is very much in question in Nigeria when it comes to holding the oil companies accountable for their human rights violations and environmental degradation.
The judgment has further shown the environmental liability of parent companies for the conduct of their foreign subsidiaries,” Ojo stated.
Ojo further stated that “the judgement is urgent and strategic as the world transits away from fossil fuels there is the need to ensure that the devastation done to our environment by Shell is cleaned up and appropriate compensation is paid to communities that have suffered in many cases irreparable losses”.
Notably, Shell has been selling its land based assets and along with it, its legacies of environmental devastation, social dislocation, violence and poverty to avoid accountability. Therefore, “Our Communities owe it to themselves and their generations unborn to ensure that Shell does not escape its responsibilities”.
Ojo also called on the Niger Delta Communities and CSOs not to relent in their pursuit for justice adding that over 13 years struggle in the court has paid-off.
He enjoined Shell to comply with the court proceedings while urging the judge to do the needful in awarding compensation and preventive costs.
Continuing, ERA/FoEN called on the Nigerian government to revamp its regulatory bodies in the oil industry, ensure that criminal acts of oil transnationals are punished severely and that the Country starts taking concrete steps to wean Nigeria of its dependence on revenues from oil and gas, build a new economy on the back of a clear renewable energy framework as quickly as possible and ensure the gradual phasing out of oil and gas activities in Nigeria.
Reports from Netherlands revealed that Shell had argued that the actions committed in Nigeria cannot be tried in the Netherlands.
Shell had initially denied it caused the spill in 2008, but blame it on criminals and third party interference.
But, the farmers demanded that Shell clean up the oil spills; pay compensation for the damages caused; and improve the maintenance of its pipelines and installations to prevent future spills.
Besides, the court had ruled in December 2015 that Shell must provide the plaintiffs internal company documents essential to the case and this was the first of its kind in the Dutch legal history.