Oil spill: Ogoni community sues Shell again

Mutiu Sunmonu, Shell MD

Mutiu Sunmonu, MD, Shell Nigeria

18 September 2013, Port Harcourt – In keeping with its threat, the people of Bodo community, Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, have again dragged oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, SPDC, to a London court over the 2009 massive oil spill which devastated their environment, particularly their farmland.

The multi-national company had offered to pay Bodo the sum N7.5 billion which, according to the calculations of the community, would amount to N250,000 per individual affected by the spill. The company had also offered to clean up the area.

Rejecting the offer, the community has made good its threat to settle the matter in court. The latest court action, the second in less than three years, came after the community, through their counsel, Leigh Day, operating under Leigh Day and Company, a London-based legal firm, failed to reach an out of court settlement with Shell over the spill.
Addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt on the suit, former secretary of Bodo Council of Chiefs and Elders, Chief Saint Emman Pii, said the decision of the community to drag Shell back to court followed its refusal to pay the 500 million pounds the community demanded as compensation as part of the out of court settlement.

Pii said “We demanded for about 500 million pounds from Shell as compensation for the oil spill which damaged our sources of livelihood. Our lawyer first demanded for one billion pounds on our behalf, but we asked him to come down to 500 million pounds. Our lawyer came back to tell us that Shell offered seven million pounds.

“Since negotiation has failed, we are going back to court. Already, we have filed our documents through our lawyer at a London court. We first agreed to settle out of court because we don’t know how long the matter will last in court.”

Pii accused Shell of trying to undercut the community by offering to pay peanuts as compensation to the over 10,000 indigenes of the community as well as organisations that were affected by the oil spill.

He said that Shell had no reason not to pay adequate compensation to the community because the spill occurred as a result of equipment failure in the oil giant’s facilities located in the community.

Pii added that “Shell wanted to pay us peanuts. The first amount offered to Bodo community as compensation was one million pounds and that was in 2012. We rejected it. So, we went back again to renegotiate. This time, they came and offered seven million pounds and my community rejected it.”

About the Author