By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
A Dutch Appeal Court sitting in The Hague, has begun hearing in an appeal filed by four Nigerian farmers, in a case against Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over pollution of the environment and destruction of their farmlands and other sources of livelihood in the Niger Delta region.
The farmers, who are from Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom, Oruma in Bayelsa and Goi in Rivers States, who filed the suit in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie), are urging the Court to order Royal Dutch Shell to mandate its subsidiary, SPDC, to remediate and recover the environment, that was destroyed by its facilities.
The plaintiffs/appellants/ respondents, which Princewill Alali Efanga, Chief Eric Barizaa Dooh, Elder Friday Alfred Akpan, and Chief Felix Oguru, however monitored proceedings of the court via YouTube in Port Harcourt, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the Court adjourned proceedings, Nigerian counsel to the farmers and acting executive director, Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN),
Chima Williams, said the case wouldn’t have been necessary if all the multinational companies operating in Nigeria had respect for the rights of Nigerians and their environment.
Williams said: “The case is about oil spill caused by facilities of SPDC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell in Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom State, Oruma in Bayelsa State and Goi in Ogoniland in Rivers State, which affected properties of the plaintiffs.
“The case is challenging the inaction and inactivity of Shell in containing the spill when it occured and redressing the environment by recovering the environment and also for taking into account that people’s source of livelihood and life sustenance had been destroyed beyond immediate recovery to take case of those persons. This is the essence of the case.”
“These type of cases wouldn’t have been necessary assuming all the multinational companies operating in Nigeria had respect for the rights of the Nigerian citizens and their environment or where there were breaches, offered immediate remedies.
“The Nigerian governments should support efforts of her citizens to bring the extractive companies to remedy the harm caused her citizens and their environment to pave way for a healthy relationship between the citizens, companies and government.”