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ACTIVISTS, GROUPS WRITE JONATHAN ON N'DELTA OIL SPILLS

By NBF News
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A global coalition of leading human, environmental and children's rights groups, prominent individuals and experts on Sunday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to protect the people of the Niger Delta by toughening laws on the operations of oil companies.

In a letter titled, 'Oil firms must compensate the people of Nigeria,' which was published in the Opinion Page of The Observer newspaper of London, the coalition also said oil companies operating in the region must pay an 'ecological debt' by 'investing in an independent compensation body responsible for dealing with the impact of oil spills.'

They lamented that the people of the region were not receving adequate protection from government, while oil companies such as Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil had gone unpunished, in spite of being 'largely responsible for decades of oil spills that destroy livelihoods and violate human rights.'

The coalition said it was unlike the price being paid by BP for its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The letter, which was endorsed by 43 signatories, in Nigeria and across the world, reads, 'Grilled in Congress, shares down to £3 and forced to pledge billions of dollars in compensation, BP is paying the price for the damage it has caused in the Gulf of Mexico - and rightly so. Yet in Nigeria, as you report (Anger grows across the world at the real price of 'frontier oil,' Business), oil companies such as Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil have been largely responsible for decades of oil spills that destroy livelihoods and violate human rights.

'Villagers in Nigeria have nowhere to turn for adequate remedies. A global coalition of leading human, environmental and children's rights groups, prominent individuals and experts is calling on oil companies in Nigeria to begin repaying their ecological debt by investing in an independent compensation body responsible for dealing with the impact of oil spills.

President Goodluck Jonathan must lead this process and toughen Nigeria's regulatory framework to protect the people of the Niger Delta.'

The signatories include the Nigeria Liberty Forum, UK; Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain and Ireland; Centre for Social & Corporate Responsibility, Nigeria; Gender And Development Action, Nigeria; Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum, Nigeria; Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project, Nigeria; Prof. Rick Steiner, USA; and Communities for a Better Environment, USA.

Others include Michael Watts, University of Berkeley California, USA; Patrick Bond, senior professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Centre for Civil Society Environmental Justice project, South Africa; Niger Delta Professionals For Development, Nigeria; Gordon Roddick, UK; and the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Nigeria; and Scottish Education and Action for Development, Scotland.