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Oil spill: Niger Delta farmers hail court victory against Shell

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Shell. Photo: FIRCROFT

Farmers from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States, have hailed the judiciary for remaining the hope of the common man.

The farmers commended the ruling of the Dutch Appeal Court sitting in Hague, yesterday, which ordered Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to pay compensation to them following the devastation of their farmlands through oil exploitation.

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Milieudefensie, the Dutch branch of Friends of The Earth, had in 2008 filed a lawsuit on behalf of the farmers against Shell following oil spills that destroyed their farmlands and other properties in Ikot Ada Udo community in Akwa Ibom State, Oruma community in Bayelsa State and Goi community in Rivers State.

The farmers, which include Princewill Alali Efanga, Chief Eric Barizaa Dooh, Elder Friday Alfred Akpan and Chief Felix Oguru, had urged the court to order Royal Dutch Shell to mandate its subsidiary, SPDC, to remediate and recover the environment that was destroyed by its facilities.

The farmers said the judgment should be a lesson for other companies operating in the Niger Delta region.

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Shortly after the judgment was delivered, the Nigerian counsel to the farmers and Acting Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Chima Williams, described it as historic.

Williams said: “Today is a historic day in the Niger Delta. We have been working with the communities to ensure that the multinational, Shell, that has destroyed our environment and our source of livelihood are held accountable. The journey started way back in 2008 and today, we are having a judgment from the Court of Appeal in The Hague, Netherlands.

“We will recall that some time ago in 2012 or thereabout, the lower court in the Hague delivered a judgment that denied the communities of Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom, Oruma in Bayelsa State and Goi in Ogoniland of Rivers State of their claims against Shell.”

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One of the farmers, Chief Eric Dooh, also stated that the judgment against shell should be a lesson for other companies operating in the Niger Delta region.

“It is a world-class precedent against a multinational oil company. They will never behave the way they have been behaving. It will be a lesson to other multinational oil companies that are operating in the Niger Delta to do the right thing and the polluter-pay principle will be in full force,” Dooh said.

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