News / Africa

Nigerians Seek $1 Billion in Compensation From Shell

Fishermen sort out their fishing net at the bank of a polluted river in Bidere community in Ogoniland in Nigeria's delta region, August 20, 2011.
Fishermen sort out their fishing net at the bank of a polluted river in Bidere community in Ogoniland in Nigeria's delta region, August 20, 2011.

Nigerians in the oil-rich Niger Delta are asking a U.S. court to grant them $1 billion in compensation from Shell for damages from oil spills.

The suit - on behalf of people from the Ogale community in Rivers State - asks a court in the U.S. state of Michigan to award damages against Shell Oil Company for decades of pollution caused by oil spills.

Ogale Chief Godwin Okpabi says the $1 billion claim is tiny compared to the profits the Anglo-Dutch firm makes in the Niger Delta.

"In Detroit, Michigan, we are asking for compensation, which is the oil you have taken and you've made billions and billions. But since you have caused injuries to us, you have given us some permanent damage, you caused a discomfort to us, pay us money. And we are asking for peanuts, one billion U.S. dollars," he said.

Water pollution

A United Nations environment report in August said it could take 30 years to clean up oil spills in the Niger Delta, where the World Health Organization says contamination by carcinogens in some drinking water is 900 times safe limits.

"What is left if you have been drinking water that is contaminated at 900 percent level and your people are dying? You have cancer in your body. What are you living for? We will all lie down on the road and stop them from coming to take oil from here," said Okpabi.

The government is supplying fresh water to Ogale because most of its local sources are polluted. Area youth leader David Awaka says there are large signs throughout the community warning people not to drink contaminated water.

"The directive from the Ministry of Water Resources in River State is that we should educate our people, tell them to stay away from the water. Because the water is acidic and we are doing that," Awaka said.

Sabotage, theft


Shell says most of the oil spills in the Niger Delta are caused by sabotage and theft. Whatever the reason, the firm says it has a system in place to clean up spills as quickly as possible.

The long-running environmental degradation of the Niger Delta sparked attacks on oil facilities by armed militants, who have since reached an amnesty deal with the federal government.

It also led to a civil disobedience campaign by author Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged by a military tribunal in 1995 under the rule of General Sani Abacha. That execution resulted in Nigeria being suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations for more than three years.

The $1 billion claim against Shell is being brought under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute of 1789, which holds companies in the United States liable for breaching international law. It is the same statute under which the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a separate case by families in the Niger Delta alleging that Shell was complicit in human rights abuses during General Abacha's military rule.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More