7 Jul 2015

Rivers community sues Shell over £55million compensation

People of Goi community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have sued Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and others over alleged exclusion from a recent payment of £55 million as compensation to residents of Bodo community.

A United Kingdom-based law firm, Leigh Day, had, in 2011, represented Bodo community in an appeal before a London court for the oil company to pay about £300 million in compensation to its clients for the spillage of 500,000 barrels of oil into their environment in 2008/2009.

Shell accepted responsibility for the spillage and paid £55 million to the over 15,000 Bodo community residents in 2014 as an out-of-court settlement deal.

However, the Goi community, which was also affected in the oil spillage, was reportedly excluded from compensation payment.

The current suit is the second in the series against Shell by the Goi community after the famous four Niger Delta farmers’ case against the company at The Hague, Netherlands.

The community is one of three that had been sacked by the activities of oil firms in Ogoni of Rivers State alone, the other two being Bue-Leh and Busuu communities.

Suing for themselves and representing the Goi community were His Royal Highness, Mene Tomii Tomii; Chief Eric Dooh; Mene Kanen Timii and Mene Tom-Bari Gbegha who were present in court, on Monday, with over 100 other members of the community.

In the case, instituted at the Federal High Court 4, Port Harcourt, the Goi community claimed that it should not have been excluded from the compensation payment since it was also affected in the same oil spill for which compensation was paid.

The community wanted Shell and nine others to explain how compensation was paid to its exclusion for the same oil spill which the court at The Hague had, in 2013, ruled was caused by sabotage.

Speaking on the matter, counsel to Goi community, Dr M.E. Brown, expressed optimism that his clients would get justice from the court, noting that they had a good case against Shell and others.

Other parties and defendants in the suit were the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme (HYPREP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Federal Ministry of Environment.

Others included the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDA) and the Niger Delta Relief Foundation (NDRF).

The trial judge, Justice U. F. Agomo, adjourned further hearing on the matter till October 13.

Credit: Nigerian Tribune

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