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Court Orders Shell to Pay N15.4 Billion for Oil Spill

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Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria has been ordered to pay the sum of N15.4 billion to the Ejama - Ebubu community in Tai Elema Local Government Area of Rivers state for polluting its environment through oil spills.

A Federal High Court ruling in Asaba ordered Shell to pay the sum as compensation for polluting the community after a case was instituted against the company in 2001 by the locals.

Head of media of a group known as Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) Philip Jakpor in a statement said the ruling "signals a ray of hope for communities in the Niger Delta area who have tirelessly demanded justice for their environmental rights that have been violated by oil corporations in the past five decades".

According to the statement, "Shell was ordered to pay a compensation of N15.4 billion to the community by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court Asaba which found the company culpable for an oil spill that occurred in 1970".

Lauding the judgment, the group also said prior to the ruling, the case "had been transferred from one judge to the other before the ruling of Justice Buba after Shell refused to put up a defence.

"While we acknowledge this welcomed token forced on Shell by the court, this sum cannot be said to be adequate in remediating the impacts of Shell's pollution which the Ejama-Ebubu community have suffered for over four decades. The ruling on our own shores signals a ray of hope for other Niger Delta communities that have suffered the same fate and have been made to pass through the tiresome legal technicalities that the oil industry always unleashes on poor communities," said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.

Counsel to the community, Lucius Nwosu (SAN) had according to the statement submitted that the oil company, in a bid of transporting oil constructed pipelines to convey crude oil from an oil well to Bonny Oil Terminal for export, caused the spill.

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