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Thanks to Mlieudefensie & Friends of the Earth Netherlands
By Alice Ukoko
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The Court's ruling in The Hague on Wednesday, January 30th 2013 which finds Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) responsible for the pollution of farmlands in the Niger Delta represents a major breakthrough for the people of the region who have borne the weight of negative oil exploring by Multinational companies in the region in over fifty years. Most importantly finding SPDC's responsible for securing its oil bearing pipes is awesome. The Duty of Care element of the Dutch Court Ruling can be applied to most aspects of the Company's operations in the region.

For over fifty years to this day, the inhabitants of the Niger Delta have cried out against oil exploration without due care and respect for the people's right to enjoy clean environment and oil richness of their own land. Instead of complying with the legitimate demands of the people, SPDC have used force and divide and conquer tactics against members of the oil communities who fight themselves over their wealth.

This Court ruling is the first legal achievement in the struggle against Shell (SPDC) and others Oil Multinational Companies operating in the Niger Delta. The Companies' failing to operate with due care is glaring because they continue to blame spillages on saboteurs but doing nothing to safeguard their equipment and our environment. In the Niger Delta, oil and petrol bearing pipes are laid above ground across the peoples' residential lands. Perhaps, this Court ruling will compel SPDC and others to modernize their operational methods and update their equipments.

I congratulate the women of the Niger Delta who continue to pay the negative price of oil exploration without due care in the region for this victory against the almighty SPDC.

I call on the Nigerian Government to learn from and the Court victory championed by Mlieudefensie & Friends of the Earth Netherlands to correct its weaknesses and errors of the past for failing to regulate the oil giant over the period of fifty six years and deliver on its constitutional obligation to the inhabitants of the Niger Delta.

Section 20 of Nigeria's Constitution 1999provides thus: “The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”

I am deeply grateful to Mlieudefensie & Friends of the Earth Netherlands for its interest and determination to bring Shell to justice in its home country. Although this judgement is primarily addressed to four farmers in the region, its implication cover the region and beyond.

SPDC continues to: -
• Flare gas although outlawed by the Nigerian Government and below international standard

• Pump highly toxic waste (affluent water) into the Warri River which supports life in the area. Shell claim to have the permission of the Nigerian Government as it is cheaper to do so without regards to its destruction of human life and the peoples' livelihood

• SPDC is passing equity to third parties although lacks legally enforceable contraction relationship with the host communities.

In expressing gratitude for this Court Victory, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other well meaning others to return to the Courts in defence of the rights of the people of the Niger Delta to clean air, water and land. The struggle for justice and human rights in the Niger Delta must continue

Support Women Of Africa to end environmental destruction of the Niger Delta region as our rights are Human Rights.

Contact Alice Ukoko at [email protected]
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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Alice Ukoko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."