Justice at last from Shell … for Nigerians!

Eric Barizah, chief of Nigeria’s Goi community in Rivers State, shows oil pollution from leaks in the Niger delta. Photograph: EPA (Source: The Guardian)

A court has finally ruled that Shell Nigeria must pay for oil damage. How long has it been? Wasn’t Ken Saro-Wiwa already working on such issues in the 1990s? This ruling deals with oil pollution in the Niger delta region of Nigeria. Well, a Dutch court has finally asked the oil giant Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for oil damages. This is a first… and we just hope that Shell will not play the French card, and will actually compensate for all the environmental damages, the loss of livelihood, and probably the loss of lives they caused while they made humongous benefits. This is a major win for Nigerians, for Africans, and for all the communities around the world whose environments have been polluted by these giant corporations. Excerpts below are from the Guardian.

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A Dutch court has ordered Shell Nigeria to compensate farmers for major oil spills they say caused widespread pollution.

Shell Oil Company logo

On Friday an appeals court in The Hague rejected Shell’s argument that the spills were the result of sabotage, saying not enough evidence had been provided.

The court ordered Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate the farmers for the losses caused by the oil spills in the two villages of Goi and Oruma in 2004 and 2005. The amount of compensation had not yet been decided.

It also ruled the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, and its subsidiary must install warning equipment on its Oruma pipelines to limit the environmental damage in case of another spill.

The farmers claiming compensation argued the damage was caused by oil leaking from the pipeline, which could have been prevented if Shell had installed the correct detection systems.

Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil,” said Eric Dooh, one of the Nigerian plaintiffs, in a statement released by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, which supported the case. “This verdict brings hope for the future of the people in the Niger delta.” Dooh’s father was one of two complainants who died during the case, which has gone on for 13 years.

Flag and map of Nigeria
Flag and map of Nigeria

The Hague appeals court ruled in 2015 that Dutch courts had jurisdiction in the case, seven years after the four farmers first sued, and after debate over whether Shell’s parent company should be held liable for the Nigerian subsidiary’s actions.

This is fantastic news for the environment and people living in developing countries,” said Friends of the Earth’s Netherlands head, Donald Pols.

It means people in developing countries can take on the multinationals who do them harm.”

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