February 3, 2021
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Some environmentalists in the Niger Delta, including the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria REA/FoEN, have lauded last Friday’s judgment of a Netherlands Appeal Court indicting Shell Nigeria for some oil spills in the Niger Delta region.

ERA/FoEN, which described the judgment as historic when its acting executive director Chima Williams was reacting to the court judgment in Port Harcourt, said the judgment had vindicated the petitioners made up of four farmers in two communities of Bayelsa and Rivers states.

“The judgment of Friday is a wakeup call for us who have been involved in the case from scratch,” he said, pointing out that it evoked emotions for him as the lawyer to the farmers.

“The first time was that we created history when the lower court in The Hague accepted jurisdiction because that was the first challenge, whether a court in The Hague has jurisdiction over a matter that arose outside of the Netherlands against Shell in The Hague, that we passed through in 2010,” he added.

Williams further explained that besides the court ruling that Shell should pay compensation to those victims from the two communities, the court also charged Shell to ensure that no further spill occurred in the communities.

“The journey started in 2008 and today we are having a judgment from the Court of Appeal, Netherland: And you recall that sometime around 2012, the lower court in The Hague delivered a judgment that denied the communities of Oruma and Goi of their pleas in the High Court in the Netherlands. And the same High Court upheld our claims in favour of Ikot Aba Ido in Akwa Ibom State.

“Today, history has been made that the Court of Appeal in the Netherlands has upturned the ruling of the judgment of the High Court against Oruma and Goi. The court has held Shell liable for the destruction caused in Oruma community of Bayelsa State and Goi community in Rivers State for the destruction caused by their oil spill that polluted citizens’ farmlands and fish ponds, destroyed their source of livelihoods,” Williams said.

Also speaking, the coordinator, Oil  Watch for ERA, Kentebe Eberiado, said the argument by Shell that sabotage was responsible for oil in the Niger Delta was baseless.

Eberiado noted that Shell would always put up a story, but the court in the Netherlands looked at the facts that were put before them and the issues on the ground, together with the report that Shell staff were directly involved in vadalism of pipelines for contract purposes.

On his part, an environmentalist, Celestine Akpobarie, expressed happiness that Ken Saro-Wiwa  had predicted the judgement,  insisting that the Ogoni people were not interested in resumption of oil exploration in the area.

He said: “I don’t think in our lifetime that there will be resumption of oil operations in Ogoniland because there is basically nothing to show for oil. Everything that oil has given to Ogoni people has been death. Death of persons, death of the environment, death of livelihoods and death of even the air that we breathe.”

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