Fishermen and communities along the Atlantic coastline in Akwa Ibom State have urged the management of Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) to accept responsibility for oil spills in the area.The groups made the call in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Eket, in a reaction to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC’s) admission of responsibility for oil spills in Ogoni, Rivers state.
Rev. Samuel Ayadi, the Akwa Ibom chapter Chairman of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), said that Mobil, which operates the Qua Iboe oil fields had refused to accept responsibility for several spills in its operational area in the past 10 years.
“What Shell did is a clear indication that the era of oil companies exploiting the loopholes in our legal system is over. Henceforth we shall be seeking redress in their home countries. We have signed a pact with Friends of the Earth International, an NGO affiliated with Green Peace to seek legal redress for oil spills caused by Mobil at the Qua Iboe oil fields,” he said.
Ayadi continued: “But it is better that they emulate the example of Shell and save the resources they would have expended on litigation and channel it to offsetting the outstanding compensation claims.”
He said it was regrettable that Mobil, an ExxonMobil subsidiary in Nigeria, had consistently flouted court judgments that compelled them to indemnify people who suffered losses as a result of oil spills.
Also, Chief Ekpu Johnson, the President of Ekid Peoples Union, a socio-cultural organisation of Eket People in Southern Akwa Ibom, told NAN that the Ogoni oil Spill case had vindicated the oil communities.
“Shell had maintained that the communities were the cause of the spills in a bid to evade payment of compensation but suddenly made a summersault when it became obvious that the long arms of the law had caught up with them. We hope that Mobil will not wait for us to go the way of the Ogoni people, we expect them to be responsible or else we shall be prepared to go the whole length with them,” he said.