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Ogoni Community Drags Shell To Court

Tony Ita Etim, Port Harcourt

The Goi Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, has sued Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and some others, over claims of exclusion from the recent payment of a 55million Pounds Sterling compensation to residents of Bodo Community.

In Suit N0. FHC/PH/CS/132/2015, instituted at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, the community is claiming that it should not have been excluded from the compensation payment since it was also affected by the oil spill for which compensation was paid.

Other defendants in the suit include, United Nations Development Programme (UNEP), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme (HYPREP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Federal Ministry of Environment (FME), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Inspector General of Police (IGP), National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) and Niger Delta Relief Foundation (NDRF).

The suit, which the community instituted yesterday, is the second in the series against Shell by Goi community after the popular Four Niger Delta farmers’ case against the company at The Hague.

His Royal Highness, Mene Tomii S. Tomii; Chief Eric Dooh; Mene kanen B. Timii and Mene Tom-Bari Gbegha who were present in court yesterday, with over 100 other members of the community, are suing for themselves and representing Goi community. The community wants Shell, and nine others, to explain how compensation was paid, excluding their community for the same oil spill in 2008/2009 that the Court at The Hague ruled in 2013 as haven been caused by sabotage.

Goi community is one of three communities that had been sacked by the activities of oil firms in Ogoni of Rivers State alone. Others are BueLeh and Busuu communities.

Counsel to Goi community Barrister M. E. Brown said he is optimistic that his clients will get justice from the court as they have a good case against Shell and others.

A group, the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), a nongovernmental organization (NGO), with offices in Port Harcourt and Abuja, Nigeria is working with Goi Community on the matter under “Justice for Goi” Campaign launched in 2013.

The case was adjourned yesterday by Hon. Justice U. F. Agomo of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt to October 13, 2015 for further hearing, adding that by then, all parties in the matter would have been properly served.

It would be recalled that a United Kingdom law firm, Leigh Day, in 2011 represented Bodo community and appealed to a London court for Royal Dutch Shell to pay about 300 million Pounds in compensation to its clients for the spillage of 500,000 barrels of oil into their environment in 2008/2009.

Shell had accepted responsibility for the spillage and eventually paid 55million Pounds to over 15,000 Bodo community residents in 2014 as an out-of-court settlement deal.

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