01 March 2015, Port Harcourt — No fewer than 15,500 indigenes of Bodo in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have so far received N600,000 each being the monetary compensation paid by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to ameliorate the effect of oil spills that had occurred in the area over the years.
In 2010, Shell agreed on out-of-court settlement in a case brought against it by the people of Bodo community over the excessive oil spills from the company’s failed facilities, which had caused a damaging effect on the Ogoni environment and its people.
Disclosing this much during a solidarity visit by a delegation of Friends of the Earth and Environmental Rights Action FoE/ERA led by its Executive Director, Dr Godwin Ojo, the Chairman of Bodo Council of Chiefs, Mene Sylvester Kogbara, said Bodo people had already started to use the money to “develop themselves.”
Kogbara explained that after six years of intensive legal battle with the oil giant, Shell agreed to cough out 56million euros as compensation to be shared among the indigenes of Bodo.
He said although the compensation had been paid, “what is most disturbing now is the clean-up of the Ogoni environment as stipulated in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report.
On the plans by some local companies to re-enter Ogoni for exploration, Kogbara said no company would enter the community “except we know the directors, management and the history of such company,” adding that of the companies that have shown interest so far, “it is only Belemaoil that we have seen.”
The ML11 oil bloc, according to him does not only have to do with Bodo but such areas as Andoni, and Eleme among others.
Earlier, the Executive Director of ERA, Dr Godwin Ojo, stressed the need for Ogoni people to unite in the face of the environmental degradation caused by oil spills.
Ojo expressed satisfaction that Shell paid the compensation, which he said would go a long way to improve the lives of the Bodo people.
“What is most important here is to ensure that both the Federal Government and Shell come together to clean up the polluted environment of Ogoni,” he said.
Meanwhile, the representative of Friends of the Earth, Netherlands, Geert Ritsema, blasts Shell for the continuous gas flare in Nigeria, which he said has contributed to the global climate change.
“Oil companies in the Niger Delta behave like criminals. They don’t even respect their guidelines, which is why they must be made to comply with the international best practice. Shell is known for its poor environmental behaviour,” he said.
Ritsema called on the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the polluted environment was thoroughly cleaned up.
*Daniel Abia – Daily independent