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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs