After close to a decade of court action, some Nigerian farmers have finally gotten the compensation that they deserved as Shell has agreed to pay $16m (£13m) to four Nigerian farmers and their communities to compensate for damage allegedly caused by pollution coming from leaks in its oil pipelines.
The sum was agreed upon in negotiations between the oil company and the campaign group- Friends of the Earth. However, it is being given on the basis of “no admission of liability”, a joint statement said.
The oil spills, in this case, happened from 2004 to 2007 and the payout follows a decision last year by a Dutch court that the Nigerian branch of Shell was responsible for the damage. That notwithstanding, Shell argued that the leaks were a result of sabotage.
Shell’s headquarters were in the Netherlands until early this year. Campaigners hailed the court decision as the first time a multinational had been deemed legally responsible for what a subsidiary did.
“Thanks to this compensation we can build up our community once again. We can start to re-invest in our living environment,” Eric Dooh, the son of one of the farmers who launched the case in 2008 alongside the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth noted.
The money will be going to communities in Oruma, Goi, and Ikot Ada Udo. Although the amount of compensation is not huge, this development is seen as a milestone for rural communities across the Niger Delta region and environmental activists, said one of the witnesses.
Oil pollution continues to damage the health and livelihoods of many in the area. The four farmers who began the case – Barizaa Dooh, Elder Friday Alfred Akpan, Chief Fidelis A Oguru, and Alali Efanga noted that the leaks from underground oil pipelines had cost them their livelihoods by contaminating land and waterways.
Mr. Efanga and Mr. Dooh have died since the case was first filed so their sons pursued the case instead. As well as compensation, the court’s ruling ordered Shell to set up a leak early detection system.
Nigeria’s oil industry has been a major source of environmental damage. Recently, there was a report that many women have had their hope of becoming proud mothers shattered following the pervasive environmental devastation induced by the activities of multinational oil exploration companies which are making fortunes. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and other health challenges have become a lot with many women battling with itchy and swollen private parts which have refused to heal because they are being cleaned up with polluted water.
However, despite soaring profits, oil companies are not paying enough for their environmental damage.