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Vanguard: Shell denies allegations of Ogoni rights violations

By Hector Igbikiowubo 


Posted to the Web: Saturday, April 15, 2006  



THE Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has denied allegations of human rights violations in Ogoni land levelled by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).


A statement released by management of the company disclosed that SPDC was forced to pull out of Ogoni land in 1993 without the opportunity to secure and make safe its wells and other facilities.


“Since then, continuing sabotage and deterioration of facilities left behind have caused a number of crude oil spills and fire incidents, putting communities and the lives of people at risk. SPDC has been seeking access from Ogoni leaders to return to the area to secure these facilities and clean up the spills and the environment, but without success.”


The management explained that the latest incident occurred at Bomu Well-2 on March 24, noting that  the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili has during a visit to the affected areas appealed to Ogoni communities to grant access to SPDC to secure facilities and clean spills.

Following an invitation by the State Ministry of Environment, the company subsequently commenced discussions with the Commissioner of Environment and the affected Ogoni communities on how this will happen.


It was gathered that the SPDC has also discussed the issue with the Facilitator of the Ogoni Peace Process, Father Matthew Kukah.

The discussions are on-going and SPDC has agreed to provide a detailed plan of the intended activity to the Commissioner before work would start.


Following on from the Bomu Well-2 spill, the Rivers State Government announced a relief package of N10 million to the affected communities and directed SPDC to also support the victims pending the conclusion of the investigation into the cause of the spill. After careful consideration of the situation, the company yesterday handed over a relief package of N5 million to the local government chairman for onward transmission to the people affected by the spill. The cheque for the amount was given out at a meeting in Port Harcourt presided over by the Rivers State Commissioner for Environment.


The SPDC said this was a humanitarian gesture, which was made in the spirit of the on-going reconciliation process. Management said the company has not received any report about the incident mentioned or any violation of the human rights of youths from Ban-Ogoi community by security men at the Afam Power project site.


“However, there was a report that on Monday, April 10, 2006, two foreign journalists gained access to the site by claiming to be workers of Stemco, the road works subcontractor. Their identities were revealed when they insisted on interviewing the site manager about a reported incident of assault of two workers by other local community workers.


“The site manager had them led out of the premises after advising them to contact SPDC. No component of the Afam Power Project is located in Ban-Ogoi as claimed. SPDC abandoned the acquisition of an additional parcel of land in the community after it was wrongly accused of undermining the Federal Government-initiated reconciliation process in Ogoni land.


“In direct opposition to all the gestures of goodwill demonstrated by SPDC, thirteen members of a team that went on inspection of wells to assess their integrity preparatory to securing them were attacked yesterday by community youths. Their vehicles and equipment were seized and they were detained. SPDC takes the safety of people and protection of the environment very seriously and we would like to be able to secure oil installations in Ogoni land and clean up the spills that have occurred,” the company management disclosed in a statement.



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