Rights Group commends Court on Shell
The decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the federal High Court, Asaba division directing the multi-national oil firm-Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) to pay the people of Ejama-Ebubu community in Tai Eleme local government Area of Rivers state the sum of N15.4 Billion as special and punitive damages for oil spill in the community has been commended as heroic and exemplary.
A development focused and democracy inclined non-governmental organization HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, (HURIWA) which applauded the landmark judicial decision also advised the defaulting multi-national oil firm- shell petroleum development company to pay the damages immediately in line with international best practices and drawing a lesson from the current events in the United States where by the British petroleum paid massive sum as compensation for the oil spill in New Mexico communities in the United States of America on the promptings of President Barack Obama and the United States Congress.
In a statement made available to the media and jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the senior program manager Miss. Ogom Kifordu, HURIWA said the judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba has once more demonstrated the fact that the judiciary is still the hope of the common man going by the fact that it took the community going to court to compel the defaulting multinational crude oil exploration giant to take responsibility for their action in polluting the ecosystem and the environment in Ejama-Ebubu community of Rivers state.
The Rights group tasked President Good luck Jonathan to prioritize the urgent need for defaulting oil firms to clean up the polluted Niger Delta communities and to pay compensation just as the case in the United States whereby President Barack Obama compelled British Petroleum to pay victims of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the tune of $20 Billion United States Dollars.
HURIWA stated thus; “Whereas in the United States, the government took immediate action to compel British petroleum to establish a $20 Billion compensation fund to compensate victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, In the Nigeria's heavily polluted Niger Delta region the opposite is the case because the defaulting multinational oil companies have hitherto operated with impunity without the Federal Government doing anything pragmatic to ensure that the devastated environment are cleaned up and victims compensated The gallantry of the people of Ejama-Ebubu to have challenged in court the grave violations of their environmental and human rights has paid off handsomely”.
“In the case of Ejama Ebubu community of Rivers State, it took the brave decision of the victims to approach the competent court of law before favorable verdict has now been issued compelling shell petroleum to pay just a little sum compared to what her counterpart is paying in the United States of America,” HURIWA asserted.
HURIWA also commended Justice Buba of the Federal High Court for directing shell petroleum to de-pollute and rehabilitate the dry land and swamps to its pre-impact status and stated that generations yet unborn will be appreciative of his good and courageous decision to use his judicial powers enshrined in section 6 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria to right the perpetual wrongs done by shell petroleum development company to the environment of Ejama-Ebubu community.
The Rights group tasked the Federal Government to empower the National anti-oil Spill Agency (NOSDRA) with the necessary tools and capacity to deal with big time offenders responsible for the devastation of the environment in the oil rich but neglected Niger Delta communities.
The Plaintiffs who sued on behalf of Ejama-Ebubu community are: Chiefs Isaac Osaro Agbara, Victor Obari, Humphrey Ogiti, F.N. Oguru, G.O. Nnah, George Osaro, Adanta Obelle, Hon. Joseph Ogosu and Mrs. Laleoka Ejii. The spill affected an area of about 255.369 hectares. The matter was instituted in 2001 and had gone through two other judges, namely Justices Adamu Bello and Regina Nwodo before reaching judgment stage.