By Moses Ukpong
A Nigerian tribal king has taken Oil giant Shell to a Court in London.
He represents 1 of the 2 communities from the Niger Delta who are suing shell for decades of Oil Pollution.
The question is,
How did it come to this?
Chief John Ejah, a former Land occupant says lives were lost as a result of the oil pollution by Shell. He also blames the Nigerian government for cherishing the oil more than the lives of the people in the community.
The fight between the people of the Ogoniland and Shell has been going on for more than 2 decades now.
Shell discovered a large oil field in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and started exporting oil 2 years later. The Nigerian Government government confirmed they’ve been more than 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000. Shell has been accused of turning a once fertile farmland into a toxic wasteland.
The Movement for the Survival Of The Ogoni People organized large protests against Shell claiming very little of the money earned on their land was getting to the people who live there. The Government shut down the protests violently which resulted to the militarization of the Niger Delta.
In 1995, Protest leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian Government. Shell was accused of collaborating with the Nigerian Government leading to his execution, Shell immediately agreed to a $15M settlement of the case in 2009.
In 2006, armed groups began tapping pipelines and kidnapping oil staff in 2006.
In 2008 and 2009 massive oils spills made the situation worse and destroyed the farmland of the 2 communities that are now suing shell.
The UN released a report saying it would take 30years for the environment to recover.
A dutch court ruled that shell is liable for the pollution in the Niger Delta.
HRM Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, King of Ogale said, The court needed to compel shell to take immediate action and implement the United Nations report to go Provide the community with water, take medical history, and going to see the damage caused.
Shell has insisted that the issue must be settled in a Nigerian court, arguing that its Nigerian subsidiary is responsible, but the Ogoniland communities say they won’t get justice at home. Shell’s subsidiary said it hasn’t produced any oil or gas in the region since 1993. They blame illegal oil tapping and sabotage for the oil spills.
Shell has agreed to financial settlements in the past, but losing a case in London could set a dangerous precedent for the company.
More details coming soon.