Port Harcourt — Reactions have begun to trail the Dutch Court judgement against Shell, which held the oil multinational liable for devastating and polluting the farmlands of three farmers in Goi and Oruma communities in the Niger Delta.
Recall that last Friday, the Appeal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, ordered the Royal Dutch Shell and SPDC, to pay compensation over the 2004 and 2006 oil spills in Oruma, Bayelsa, and Goi in Rivers State.
Four farmers had dragged Shell to a Dutch Court since 2008 over oil spillage that adversely affected their farms, the Court delivered judgement for three farmers, ordering Shell to compensate them, clean-up the pollution and stop further pollution.
Reacting the judgement, stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, said that a judicial precedence has been set for local people in the region, that it will no longer be business as usual for oil multinationals.
Executive Director of Youths and Environment Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, who described the triumph of the farmers in a Dutch court as heartwarming, urged the Nigerian judiciary to also learn from the example.
“The Dutch Appeal Court judgement which ordered Shell to pay compensation to the farmers for their spills in the Niger Delta is yet another landmark judgement, Ken Saro-Wiwa will be smiling in death because he had said that he is not the only one on trial but Shell also.
“The point remains that Shell and other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta would know by this judgement like previous ones, that it is no longer business as usual when they spill oil and damage people’s sources of livelihoods.”
Similarly, a group known as Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria, ARFAN, has urged Shell to comply with the judgement and compensate the farmers as well as remediate the polluted environment as ordered by the Dutch Appeal Court.
Coordinator of ARFAN, Rev. Samuel Ayadi, said the case brings to mind the damage and impact of the 2011 Bonga oil spill, which led to the extinction of the Bonga fish specie, for which the oil facility was named after.
Ayadi lamented that the refusal of Shell to compensate fishermen for losses incurred after the spill polluted the Atlantic ocean was regrettable, while calling on President Muhamadu Buhari, prevail on Shell to abide by the court judgement.
He noted that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, had acted in good faith and imposed fines on Shell, but the Dutch firm refused to pay and unsuccessfully challenged the fine in court.
The fisherman appealed to the federal government to prevail on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo, to pay the $3.6 billion fine imposed by NOSDRA over the 2011 Bonga oilfield spill.
He lamented tha fishermen have suffered untold hardship fishing at the nation’s territorial waters since 2011, when an equipment failure from the Bonga Offshore field operated by SNEPCo discharged some 40,000 barrels of crude into the waters.
It will be recalled that On December 20, 2011, during loading of crude at Bonga fields within OML 118, the export line ruptured and discharged crude oil into the sea.
The export line, according to a Joint Investigation Report by NOSDRA and SNEPCo, spilled about 40,000 barrels of crude oil into the sea.