N’Delta farmers win litigation against Shell

ROYAL Dutch Company, widely known as Shell, on Friday agreed to pay €15 million to four farmers that were affected by multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta.

This is as a result of a court case instituted by a non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, in which Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), was held liable and ordered to pay for damages.

The Nigerian farmers and fishermen lost their livelihoods after oil from leaking Shell pipelines streamed over their fields and fishing ponds, and consequently claimed compensation from Shell.

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The communities that will benefit from the award include Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo, which were affected by four oil spills that occurred between 2004 and 2007.

“The settlement is on a no-admission of liability basis, and settles all claims and ends all pending litigation related to the spills,” Shell said.

It added that independent experts confirmed that SPDC had installed a leak detection system on the  Kolo-Creek Rumuekpe Trunkline Replacement Project (KCTL), in compliance with the appeal court orders.

The case was brought in 2008 by four farmers and Friends of the Earth, seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the region.

In a historic ruling against Shell, the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled in favour of the four Nigerian farmers.

    After the appeal court’s final ruling last year, Shell hadmaintained the spills were caused by sabotage.

    But the court in its ruling said Shell had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that sabotage had caused the spill rather than poor maintenance.

    The court maintained that Shell Nigeria’s parent company had a duty of care to prevent future spills and must build warning systems to detect future leaks.

    Responding to the court judgment, one of the plaintiffs, Eric Dooh, said, “It is a great relief to all of us that after the years of legal battle with Shell, we will soon be recipients of this money as compensation for all we have lost.”

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