Mar 04, 2016

Ogoni: Shell Repeatedly Sued Over Oil Spills

Shell is being sued by tens of thousands of Nigerian fishermen and farmers for the damages inflicted to them. Since the 1950s, Shell activities have caused incommensurable economic and health damage to communities living in Ogoniland, as well as irreversible environmental pollution. Peaceful protests in the 1990’s carried out by the Ogoni, the most affected community, were violently suppressed by the Nigerian government.

Photo courtesy of Sky News.

Below is an article published by Sky News:


Tens of thousands of Nigerian fishermen and farmers are suing multinational oil giant Shell in two new lawsuits filed in a British High Court, alleging that decades of uncleaned oil spills have destroyed their lives.

London law firm Leigh Day Co is representing them after winning an unprecedented $US83.5 million ($A114.40 million) in damages from Shell in a landmark ruling by the same court in 2015. Shell originally offered villagers $US50,000.

In a statement on Wednesday before the trial opened, Shell blamed sabotage and oil theft for the ongoing pollution and noted it had halted oil production in 1993 in Ogoniland, the area where the two communities are located in Nigeria's oil-rich southern Niger Delta.

Shell said it will challenge the jurisdiction of the British court.

'Asking the English court to intervene ... is a direct challenge to the internal political acts and decisions of the Nigerian state,' Shell said.

The Ogoni are among the most traumatised of millions of Nigerians suffering oil pollution since the late 1950s on a level that human rights activists say would never be allowed in the home countries of the multinationals that operate in Nigeria in joint partnerships with the Nigerian government.

Peaceful Ogoni protests in the 1990s were attacked by firing troops who turned the oil-producing south into a war zone. Human rights activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were executed by a military government in 1995.

Typically, victims of oil pollution spend years battling a Nigerian court system, widely criticised by rights groups as corrupt, only to come away with a pittance, so lawyers decided to challenge Shell at its London headquarters.