Lagos communities sue vessel owners for N4.15bn over pollution

Innocent Anaba

12 March 2013, Lagos – About 102 communities in Apapa, Ojo and Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Areas of Lagos State, have filed a $26.25million (N4.15billion) suit against Thames Shipping Agency Limited, and owners of two vessels over the pollution of their communities.

Plaintiffs in the case are Chief Anthony Avime, the Bale of Sagbokeji
Island, Apapa; Mr Simon Fasinu; and Mr Innocent Avime, representing themselves and consortium of villages and inhabitants that suffered damages as a result of oil spill from MT Concept and MT Redifferm.
Defendants are the owners of MT Concept; the owners of MT REDIFFERM; Thame Shipping Agency Limited (agent to owners of the vessels), and International Oil Pollution Compensation, IOPC Fund.

Counsel to the communities, Mr Paul Ogedegbe, is contending in the suit, that the plaintiffs have been in peaceful settlement and habitation of the wide land surrounded by water around the Tincan Island, Apapa waterfront, which have been occupied for decades by various ethnic groups.

The complainants further stated that they have not suffered any ecological and environmental hazards, or any form of environmental degradation since their occupation of the island, which is surrounded by the major ports in Nigeria, the Tincan Island port, the Apapa Ports complex and the Niger Dock ship yard.

They also noted that several vessels have discharged their goods and had smooth sails from the ports and mid streams without constituting any major environmental hazard to the plaintiffs, whose main source of livelihood is from the Lagoons that were allegedly polluted by the vessels.

According to them, they were surprised when on March 24, 2009, a ship, MT Concept, laden with 8,500MT of black oil, from the Warri Refinery, belonging to Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, damaged their source of livelihood during transshipment operation midstream to MT REDFFERM, with a capacity of 500MT, which was fully loaded, emptied their content into the waters and surrounding Island, where they habited.

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