Shell versus Ogale & Bille over 10-year-old oil spills


Case to proceed to UK Supreme Court

– Two lower courts strike out 2-year-old case

– MOSOP reacts, says Shell will not escape criminal liability

– MOSOP had earlier said oil will not resume in the area


Codratus Godson, Port Harcourt

 Human Rights groups against oil pollution working on the case of the Ogale community in Ogoni area and Bille community in the Kalabari area, all in Rivers State, hove vowed to proceed to the UK Supreme Court as last hope to punish Royal Dutch Shell for spills in Nigeria. Two lower courts in the UK have so far ruled against the move. This is as the movement of Ogoni people declared on the day of ruling that no oil activities will resume in their area saying Shell or any group associated with it remained not welcome to the area.

According to NAN, the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom has dismissed the claim for compensation against Royal Dutch Shell by two Nigerian communities in Rivers State, Ogale and Bille, affected by oil spill.

The communities, inspired by a similar case filed by the Bodo community which won a landmark agreement from Shell to pay $83.5 million in compensation for damage caused by oil spills in 2008 and 2009, began two separate legal claims against both Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS) and its operational arm in Nigerian, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in 2016.

But in January 2017, a lower court ruled that the Royal Dutch Shell could not be held accountable for the sins of a Nigerian subsidiary.

The appeal court, on Wednesday, affirmed the decision. In a split decision, a panel of three judges ruled that the claim could not proceed.

In a reaction to the decision of the court, NAN reports that Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Business and Human Rights, said: “With this ruling the court has struck a blow not only to the Ogale and Bille communities, who live everyday with the devastating consequences of Shell oil spills, but with victims of corporate human rights abuses all over the world. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and will make it more difficult to hold UK companies to account.

“The idea that powerful multinationals are not responsible for the conduct of their subsidiaries overseas has allowed Shell to evade accountability for a raft of shocking human rights abuses spanning decades. This is a textbook example of the almost insurmountable obstacles to justice faced by people who take on powerful multinationals.

“Internal Shell documents show that the company’s headquarters have known full well for decades about the massive oil pollution caused by their operations in Nigeria, and have chosen not to stop it. If Shell cannot be held to account for such well-documented abuses, what hope is there of bringing other companies to justice?

“The communities will now be taking their fight for justice to the Supreme Court – this could be their last chance to see their environment restored.”

— MOSOP warns Shell against any oil activity in Ogoni even by other parties

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) said on February 14, 2018, on the day the ruling was being handed down in the UK it would not allow any oil activities in Ogoni. A statement by its publicity secretary, Fegalo Nsuke,  said; “MOSOP therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of all equipment belonging to Shell in Ogoniland. We still hold Shell responsible for the killing of our leaders 1994, 1995 and the subsequent persecution of our people which led to the death of over 4,000 others between 1993 and 1999.

“We maintain that Shell or any of its allies are not wanted in Ogoniland. We call on the Ogoni people to stand against Shell in any form they manifest, be it Belema Oil Producing Nigeria Limited, Robo Michael, NPDC or in any form they may choose to disguise.

We urge the Nigerian government to put an end to this continuous harassment of our people over oil and address our demands which are clearly stated in the Ogoni Bill of Rights and in particular, we demand the release of funds for the cleanup of our devastated environment.”

MOSOP reacts to UK ruling

MOSOP sais it is dismayed at the decision of the U.K appeal court blocking an attempt to hold Shell accountable for her actions in the Niger Delta.

”However, we wish to state that the court decision does not exonerate the company of the heinous crimes it has committed in the Niger Delta.”

MOSOP said the court decision may have made it more difficult to hold Shell to account for her activities in the Niger Delta.

“MOSOP considers this judgment not only as a blow to the aspirations of the Ogoni people and the peoples of the Niger Delta but a bad precedent and a dangerous setback against the hopes of millions of peoples who suffer injustice from irresponsible business operations of U.K multi-nationals.

They said the decision is also a call on the people to challenge corporate irresponsibility of multi-nationals whose activities threaten the survival of the people through civil protests to force the desired change and put an end to the racist business activities of multi-nationals.