By Jite Eriabie
A Non-Governmental Organization has filed a suit in a London court against Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Company (SNEPCO) over a 2011 oil spill in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
The NGO, the Oil Spills Victims Vanguard, filed the case on September 21 at the TTC High Court of Justice, London, on behalf of the victims of the Bonga oil spill.
The spill, said to have been caused by an operational error on the part of SNEPCO, had about 40,000 barrels of crude oil discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, and affected at least 350 communities in Delta and Bayelsa states.
“The pollution from this discharge which covered a distance of 185 kilometers along the Nigeria coastline compelled fishermen to desert the sea and the polluted farmlands,” the group said.
About 168,000 people were said to have been affected directly by the spill.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which is a parent company to SNEPCO, is joined as a co-defendant in the case.
Harrison Jalla, the Executive Director of the Oil Spills Victims Vanguard, is the lead plaintiff in the case.
Jalla, in a press statement, said SNEPCO has “completely refused” to pay the $5 billion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian government.”
Jalla said his NGO wants to use the court case to compel Shell to pay compensation to the victims and the affected communities, as well as clean up the environment.
The NGO, represented by the law firm, Johnson and Steller, Mayfair, London, is asking for a preliminary court order that would compel Shell to tender reports and all other documents related to the Bonga oil spill.
No date has been fixed yet for the hearing.
Shell could not immediately be reached for comment.
The oil company in the past denied any wrongdoing, claiming that it responded to the oil spill “with professionalism and acted with the consent of the necessary authorities at all times to prevent environmental impact as a result of the incident,” according to a report published by Reuters.
The Nigerian government was said to have filed a similar suit in 2016 against Shell at a Federal High Court, Abuja, demanding N1.3 trillion as compensation on behalf of the victims and communities affected by the Bonga oil spill.
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