Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) yesterday declared that Shell must pay an initial $1 billion for clean-up of the pollution.

Devastating oil spills by Shell in 2008 and 2009 at Bodo, Ogoniland, Rivers State, is said to have polluted the water,  land  and affected fishing, farming, increasing health hazard and causing death of many residents of the community.

Shell, which is said to have accepted liability for the oil spill in the area, is yet to clean up the  sites or pay compensation as required by law. The company said  efforts to address the issues at Bodo were hampered by other intrigues.

At a Press Conference in Abuja yesterday by  Amnesty International and the CEHRD, while releasing the new report, titled, ‘The True tragedy: Delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta’, the two bodies called on Shell to immediately pay the initial $1 billion clean up fine in line with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the issue.

UNEP had earlier reported that it will take about 25 years for Ogoniland to recover from the devastation.      Noting that the regulatory agency, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is ineffective, they  urged the government to ensure that NOSDRA enforces the regulatory system by making sure all oil spills are cleaned up immediately and impose effective penalties when the regulations are not adhered to.

While stressing that the damage to fisheries, farmlands and water has resulted in food shortages, higher prices and health challenges in Bodo, they lamented that the offer of 50 bags each of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes, as relief package for the disaster by Shell, is misplaced given that the firm recently declared profit of $7.2 billion.

The Amnesty International’s Researcher for Nigeria, Aster van Kregten, said: “Shell must commit to pay an initial $1 billion to begin the clean-up of pollution caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.”

“Shell’s failure to promptly stop and clean up oil spills in Bodo, has devastated the lives of tens of thousand of people. Bodo is a disaster that should not have happened, yet it is one that due to Shell’s inaction, continues to this day.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria should implement the report recommendations in full, and should also implement in full the recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

Pointing out that the air been breath in by Bodo residents is contaminated, the CEHRD’s Coordinator, Patrick Naagbanton, at the occasion, said many diseases in the area, including cancer, skin-redness, rashes, throat irritation and serious respiratory problems are linked to the oil spills.


The Nation...