NEWS: Shell Pays Ogoni 15 Billion Over Oil Spillage

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By Dickson Blessing

Shell Development Company has been driven to make an out of court settlement of about 15 billion (£55 million) as a compensation to Ogoni people based on a legal action in the United Kingdom after six years of oil spills which  destroyed thousands of livelihood in Bodo area of Ogoni land.

 The two oil spills took place at Bodo in 2008, first in August and the second in December from Shell pipelines, but the company denied responsibility for the spills.
  
Amnesty International said in a statement on Tuesday that the organisation and Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) have worked on the Bodo spills case since 2008 trying to secure compensation and clean-up for the community.
 
In 2011, the people of Bodo, represented by UK law firm, Leigh Day, began court proceedings in the UK against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.
 
Although, Shell had always blamed the illegal activity of the Niger Delta as a core reason for the pollution, its claims have been discredited in research by Amnesty International and CEHRD.
 
The out-of – court settlement the £55million will be split as £35m for 15,600 individuals and £20m for the community.
“While the pay-out is a long-awaited victory for the thousands of people who lost their livelihoods in Bodo, it shouldn’t have taken six years to get anything close to fair compensation,” Mr. Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said in the statement.
  “In effect, Shell knew that Bodo was an accident waiting to happen. It took no effective action to stop it, then it made false claims about the amount of oil that had been spilt. If Shell had not been forced to disclose this information as part of the UK legal action, the people of Bodo would have been completely swindled,” he added.
  
Throughout this time, many Bodo residents who lost their livelihood in the ongoing spill have had to live with the ongoing pollution without compensation.
 “In effect, Shell knew that Bodo was an accident waiting to happen. It took no effective action to stop it, then it made false claims about the amount of oil that had been spilt. If Shell had not been forced to disclose this information as part of the UK legal action, the people of Bodo would have been completely swindled,” he added.
Styvn Obodoekwe, Director of Programmes of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) said  “The compensation is a step towards justice for the people of Bodo, but justice will be fully achieved when Shell properly cleans up the heavily polluted creeks and swamps so that those who rely on fishing and farming for their income can begin to rebuild their livelihoods”.