Nigeria, Shell: Own up, pay up, clean up

*Half a million people demand action

Clara Nwachukwu

13 February 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – About half a million people around the world have become impatient with the inability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Shell Joint Venture partners to take action to clean up the oil spill in Ogoni land.

More than six months after the United Nation Environment Programme, UNEP, released a damning report on the extent of damage caused by oil spill in Ogoni land and called for emergency actions to save the people of the community from further damages, no significant remedial measure has been taken.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) operates Nigeria’s largest oil and gas joint venture on behalf of the government-owned, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC (55%), Shell (30%), Total (10%) and Agip (5%).

Accordingly, social watchdog, Amnesty International opened a page on its website:, to obtain signatories around the world to force Shell and its JV partners to take action.

Tagged, “Shell: Own up, Pay up, Clean up,” about 471,730 people globally have taken similar actions around the world, of which 448 actions has been taken against Shell.

Amnesty International posted on its website: “The failure by the oil industry to properly clean up oil spills and other pollution in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria exacerbates human suffering and environmental damage, and leaves people exposed to sustained violations of their economic, social and cultural rights.

“The two major oil spills which occurred in 2008 in Bodo, in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta, continued for weeks before they were stopped – more than three years later Shell has still not cleaned up the pollution.

“In August 2011, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) found that Shell has failed to effectively clean up oil pollution in Ogoniland for years. While significant responsibility for human rights abuses in the Niger Delta rests with the Nigerian

Government, UNEP’s findings make clear that substantial responsibility also rests with Shell.”

The group and its signatories, in a petition to Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive, Mr. Peter Voser, expressed concern about the ongoing impact of oil pollution on economic, social and cultural rights in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Insisting on Shell’s responsibility for the impacts of oil pollution in the Niger Delta, the group therefore, demanded among others:

* Contribute the full $1 billion identified by UNEP as the start-up amount needed to establish an independent fund to clean up pollution in Ogoniland.

* Carry out a comprehensive clean-up of oil pollution and environmental damage in Bodo and all other affected sites, in consultation with local communities.

* Support the need for further assessment of oil pollution across the wider oil-producing Niger Delta region.

* Pay fair and adequate compensation to all affected communities.

Other than setting up a presidential committee, which recently submitted its report without once visiting the affected areas in Ogoni land, government and Shell are yet to take action on the debilitating spill.

In an email response to the global demand to take action, Shell simply rehashed its earlier response to the UNEP Report, and said, “SPDC hopes the UNEP report will be a catalyst for cooperation to address the challenges in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta and welcomes President Goodluck Jonathan’s initiative to set up a Presidential Committee to coordinate required actions by all parties.

“SPDC is currently working with the industry committee which will support the Presidential Committee to define the next steps towards implementing the recommendations in the report.”

It is worthy of note that the longer government and the Shell JV delayed in taking action to clean up the spill, the more the people suffer. They no longer have good water to drink and in addition, have been denied their only means of livelihood (fishing) due to the pollution and contamination of their water and environment.

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