Bodo Community Rejects Shell’s N7.5 Billion Offer
ABUJA – The much anticipated resolution of the crisis between Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Bodo community in Gokana local government area of Rivers state over compensation for the 2008 oil spill in the area has failed to materialize as the community rejected the offer by the oil company.
The London-based legal representatives of the Bodo community, David Standard and Martyn Day, from the law firm of Leigh Day, said that at the end of talks between their lawyers and Shell in Port Harcourt, the people unanimously rejected the offer from shell, describing the amount as ‘derisory and insulting.’ they did not however state how much the compensation offer was.
The fishing community had demanded compensation for two massive oil spills that occurred in the area in 2008 for which shell accepted liability.
The fishing community of about 31,000 people in 35 villages had claimed that the incident had massive devastation and damage to its environment, with over 13,000 fishermen from the area unable to continue their trade five years after.
The chairman of Bodo council, Sylvester Kogbara, said. “it is a great shame that the negotiations have not led to a settlement. I had hoped that this week would at last see the end of the litigation and enable us to start the process of rebuilding the community,” .
Their lawyers said they will now go back to a British court to request a trial timetable.
The legal action is being closely watched by the oil industry and by environmentalists for precedents that could have an impact on other big pollution claims against majors.
“We haven’t reached agreement on compensation, which is disappointing,” a spokesman for Shell Nigeria said.
“Nonetheless, we’re pleased to have made progress in relation to cleanup,” he added, saying measures had been put in place to get remediation work done as soon as possible.
A source close to Shell and another source involved in the negotiations told Reuters the company offered total compensation of 7.5 billion naira ($46.3 million).
Leigh Day, the British law firm representing the villagers, said the compensation offer amounted to approximately 1,100 pounds ($1,700) per individual impacted, without giving the number of people it says were affected.
“The whole week has been deeply disappointing,” said Martyn Day of the London-based law firm, who has been in talks with Shell since Monday in Nigeria’s oil hub Port Harcourt.
“The settlement figures are totally derisory and insulting to these villagers,” he added.
The Nigerians launched a suit against Shell at the High Court in London in March 2012, seeking millions of dollars in compensation for two oil spills in 2008, but both sides agreed to try and settle in compensation talks in Port Harcourt.
Shell accepts responsibility for the Bodo spills but the two sides disagree about the volume spilt and the number of local people who lost their livelihoods as a result.