Jun 24, 2014

Ogoni: MOSOP Denounces Government Failures

MOSOP president Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara has denounced the failure of the Nigerian government to proceed with the clean-up of the Niger delta, despite the UNEP report of 2011.

Below is an article published by The Guardian Nigeria:

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has blamed the failure of successive Nigerian government to enforce relevant oil industry laws to put the oil and gas companies in check for degradation of the Niger Delta environment.

MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, said irrespective of the United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme (UNEP) commissioned in 2007 by the Federal Government of Nigeria to undertake the study of the Ogoni environmental situation had in its report released in 2011 indicted Shell for not complying with even her own minimum environmental standard and blamed her for the degradation of the Ogoni environment, the company has not yet taken any reasonable step to turn a new leaf.

Pyagbara stated this in reaction to the decision of the London Technological and Construction Court, which held that Shell would be liable for damages inflicted on individuals and communities even if the cause of such damage was sabotage done to its infrastructure, and if it has failed to take enough steps to protect the assets, including pipelines from vandalism as well as tampering.

It will be recalled that the Bodo community in Gokana Local Council of Ogoni had dragged Shell before the court over the oil spills of 2008 and 2009, which they claimed devastated their environment.

He said: “The ruling is not only courageous and relieving but also represent a new judicial movement towards holding Shell accountable for its decades of ecological war on our people. The decision is unambiguous and passed the message that Shell can no longer mask behind sabotage to deny the Ogoni and other oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta of their inalienable right to safe and clean environment, and compensation. Simple meaning of the ruling is that those affected by oil spills and related oil production impacts could demand compensation from Shell or any other investor whether the cause of the spill has been sabotage or otherwise.”

The MOSOP leader said while Nigeria’s law forbids payment of compensation for damages to individual and community assets caused by sabotage to investor infrastructure, Shell has over the years been exploiting this provision against the interest of affected communities and individuals. According to him, the company in order to evade compensating victims of its operations, even where cause of damage has been confirmed to be the result of operational failure, it still hinges it on sabotage and takes untoward measures to frustrate affected individuals and communities from obtaining compensation and related benefits.

“Although Shell has refused to accept that her field assets believed to be the cause of the frequent oil spills in the area are old, it has continued to fail to tell the integrity or age of these infrastructures. Instead, it has kept blaming oil spills on oil theft and bunkering yet there is nothing on ground to show that it has taken any reasonable step to prevent oil theft and illegal bunkering or refining”, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Justice Akenhead of the Technological and Construction Court, London, had said: “It was not enough to employ the services of the police or other security personnel, including the soldiers, to protect her field facilities, including pipelines, but also responsible for taking additional effective measures installing leak detection systems, surveillance equipment and anti-tamper equipment to protect the pipelines. If these steps have not been taken, the investor (Shell) could not lay claim to having adequately and effectively protected its pipelines.”

MOSOP has, therefore, advised individuals and communities in Ogoni and other parts of the Niger Delta region affected by the questionable operations of the oil multinationals, especially Shell, to start the process of peacefully demanding for adequate compensation and related benefits from the polluting investor. On the other hand, it advised that the ruling should now prompt Shell to implement genuine reforms regarding its corporate conduct in the Niger Delta region.

“We would as well demand her emplacement of an appropriate and effective mechanism to bring together all stakeholders to ensure an immediate commencement of the restoration of the Ogoni environment in line with the recommendations of the UNEP environmental report on Ogoniland”, he added.