Shell: Group set to appeal judgment on Niger Delta oil spills

PORT HARCOURT – Friends of the Earth, an NGO, said on Wednesday that it would appeal against the judgment of a High Court at The Hague which absolved Shell of responsibility in the 2004, 2005 and 2008 oil spills in two Niger Delta communities.

Four farmers from the Niger Delta region had sued Shell at The Hague, Switzerland, for oil spills which destroyed their farmlands and fish ponds during the period under review.

Joined in the suit as plaintiffs were Elder Friday Apkan from Ikot Ada Udo, Ikot Abasi Local government of Akwa Ibom , Chief Fidelis Oguru and Mr Alali Efanga, from Oruma in Bayelsa and Chief Benson Barizaa Tete-Dooh from Goi,Gokan Local Government Area of Rivers.

Community representative at the Dutch courtMr Chima Williams, the group’s Head of Legal Department, however, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Wednesday in Port Harcourt that the organisation was satisfied with a section of the judgment with regard to the Ikot Ada Udo oil spill in Akwa Ibom.

NAN recalls that the court at The Hague had ruled that Shell was liable for negligence in the spill which occurred in Ikot Ada Udo Local Government but that the spills in Oruma community in Bayelsa and Goi in Rivers were due to sabotage.

Chima said, however, that the judgment which favoured Ikot Udo community in Akwa Ibom was an indication that the multinational oil corporations could be held liable for their conducts in host communities.

“We are happy with the judgment as it affects Ikot AdaUdo community. We know that it has set a new global standard in terms of corporate accountability and a new legal regime for the conduct of multinational corporations in their host communities.

“By this judgment, they (multinationals) can be held liable in their home countries for their conduct in host communities.”
Williams said the group would soon file an appeal against the judgment as it affects the Oruma and Goi communities before a higher court in Netherlands.

Said he: “We are still equally in a way happy with the totality of the judgment because we have already won the greatest victory which is moral victory.

“The case in itself has put the plight of Nigerian communities in the hands of multinational corporations in the global spotlight.

“Before now, many people were not aware of the happening in the Niger Delta communities as a result of oil extractive activities.

“But today, it is known all over the world. So, that is already a great victory for us.

“Secondly, a global standard, in terms of jurisdictional question have been set that communities or citizens from poor countries or less advanced countries or even advanced countries where multinational companies are operating , can challenge the conduct of such companies in their home countries.”

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