Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Mail and Guardian (Nigeria): Oil giant ordered to shell out

By Percy Zvomuya 

“If Shell have the guts to come to the Ijaws’ land, we won’t just kidnap their workers, now they will disappear,” threatened Joseph Evah, coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group, in the wake of a court judgement against oil giant Shell.

The judgement, which Shell has appealed, ordered the company to pay $1,5-billion to the Ijaw community in the Niger region of Nigeria for environmental damage in the region.

The Ijaw took the case to court after Shell snubbed an order in 2000 by the Nigerian Parliament to pay the community, who have been campaigning against the company’s environmentally unfriendly operations in the oil-rich region.

Analysts who spoke to the Mail & Guardian following the judgement were unanimous in calling it a “landmark ruling” that would impact on how oil is exploited in the area.

Yakubu Lawal, energy editor of Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper, told the M&G that the ruling was “a major development for the oil communities”. He said that it was “the first time we are witnessing such a court pronouncement. This will propel other communities to challenge any perceived injustice by oil companies in the courts.”

The AFP’s Olutunde Agoi described the judgement as an important one as, for the first time, a “Nigerian court has granted a group compensation”.

Agoi said that the community’s threats to halt Shell’s operations should be taken seriously because production had been disrupted in Ogoniland, home to slain leader Ken Saro-Wiwa, since 1993.

He said the judgement should be looked at in a larger perspective. Niger Delta communities needed a greater share of their oil wealth and environmental degradation needed to be reined in. “It is not just the Ijaws who are asking for compensation.”

Lawal explained that if Shell is going to pay compensation, some of the money will have to come from the state as the federal government has a 55% shareholding in the Shell Petroleum Development Company, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation parastatal; other partners are Elf and Agip.

While a Shell spokesperson told the M&G that “we are not going to abide by this decision until the appeal is heard,” he would not be drawn into commenting on the threat by community leader Ngo Nac-Eteli that if Shell wanted to buy time by appealing the decision, the community would simply make it impossible for it to operate on Ijaw land.

Lawal said the threat to disrupt production was a “normal threat by the oil communities”. However, in the event that they carry out the threat, both the federal and the state governments will “go to a round table session and negotiate” with affected communities.

He pointed out that “the government will not pay such money but will rather engage them in dialogue to find a way out of the problem”.

In an interview with the M&G from Warri, a town in the Delta state, community leader Evah said that Shell insignia is “a symbol of oppression and injustice” to the Ijaws.

Evah said Shell’s operations have caused misery in the areas in which the Ijaw people live. “There is no difference between night and day [because of gas flaring].”

As a result of petroleum pollution some people suffer from skin diseases and internal bleeding, and the area receives acid rain that pollutes drinking water.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.