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MarketWatch: Shell told to pay Niger Delta's Ijaw people $1.5B in compensation

(Updates item published at 1314 GMT with comments from Shell)
LONDON (MarketWatch) — A Nigerian court has ordered oil multinational Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) to pay $1.5 billion to the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta region, the BBC reports on its Web site Friday.
The Ijaw have been fighting since 2000 for compensation for environmental degradation in the oil-rich region. They took the case to court after Shell refused to make the payment ordered by Nigeria's parliament.
Ijaw militants have staged a spate of attacks against Shell facilities recently and are holding foreign oil workers hostage.
Shell intends to appeal against the judgment.
“We have yet to receive the text of the judgment and can't comment until we've studied it in detail,” a spokeswoman from Shell told Dow Jones Newswires.
“However, we believe we will have strong grounds to appeal as independent expert advice demonstrate that there's no evidence to support the claims. We remain committed to dialogue with the Ijaw people,” she added.
Shell's lawyers argued in the federal court in Port Harcourt the joint committee of the National Assembly that made the order in 2000 didn't have the power to compel the oil company to make the payment. But Judge Okechukwu Okeke ruled that since both sides had agreed to go before the National Assembly, the order was binding on both sides.
Nigeria is one of the world's biggest oil exporters but despite its oil wealth, many Nigerians live in abject poverty.
Web site: http://www.bbc.co.uk
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