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Oil spill victims sue Shell in UK over alleged $3.6b compensation


• Action frivolous, says official

Oil spill victims under the aegis of Oil Spill Victims Vanguard (OSPIVV) have initiated a lawsuit in the United Kingdom against Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), a subsidiary of the Royal-Dutch Shell Plc., over alleged $3, 600,191, 206 compensation to 168,000 persons and 350 communities affected by the December 20, 2011 spill from its Bonga Oil Field in Delta State.

The group’s Executive Director, Harrison Jalla in a statement, said the move was to ensure accelerated hearing and justice.

He said: “We have filed a pre-action notice on September 21, 2017 in the TCC High Court of Justice in London through our lawyers, Johnson & Steller Solicitors of Handover Square, Mayfair on behalf of the victims and communities affected by the Bonga Oil Field spills of December 20, 2011 when Shell Nigeria Exploration and Product Company (SNEPCO), due to equipment failure in their Bonga Oil Field, discharged over 10, 000 barrels of crude oil into the Atlantic Ocean which negatively affected over 168,000 persons in over 350 coastal communities in Nigeria.”

He claimed that the pollution, which covered a distance of 185 kilometers along the coastline, compelled fishermen to desert the sea, farmlands, vegetation and the environment in Ekeremo, Southern Ijaw and Brass local councils of Bayelsa State as well as Warri South-West, Warri North and Burutu council areas of Delta State and some riverine areas in Ondo State.

Jalla went on: “After due process, the House of Representatives and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) fined SNEPCO the sum of three billion, six hundred million, one hundred and ninety one thousand, two hundred and six United States dollars to be paid to the affected shoreline communities, victims and the Federal Government of Nigeria within 14 days in a letter dated December 19, 2014, with reference number, NOSDRA/DFA/131/VOLU/409.”

He regretted that SNEPCO had failed to pay the compensation, adding that his group was in court to get justice for the victims.

Jalla accused the oil major of inflicting pains on the affected communities, saying the UK court would deliver justice in the matter.

But in a swift reaction, an official of Shell, who did not want his name in print, described the action as frivolous, adding that the oil firm had compensated people and communities in recent times.

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