Ben Dunno, Warri
A non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Oil Spill Victims Vanguard (OSPIVV), has expressed optimism over securing a deserving justice for the victims and communities involved in the December 20, 2011, Bonga oil spill by multi national oil giant, Shell group, across the Niger Delta region.
Making this disclosure while briefing newsmen in Warri, yesterday, the body noted that its confidence was reaffirmed in a judgement secured in London on November 19, 2020, which gives the British court the jurisdiction to entertain the case outside the shores of the country.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Mr. Harrison Jalla, OSPIVV, also restated its confidence in the abilities of its newly constituted legal team to effectively handle both the technical and professional aspects of the case based on the facts and figures at its disposal in all the communities that were impacted in the spillage.
The statement titled: “Claim Number; HT-2017- 000383 And HT-2020-143- Bonga Oil Spill of December 20th- OSPIVV wins jurisdictional challenge against Shell Group As Rosenblatt takes over”; the body noted that its decision to change the legal team was based on its determination not to take chances in securing justice for the affected victims in the region.
According to him, “Following the negative impact of the Bonga oil spill of December 20, 2011, OSPIVV filed a law suit since September 21, 2017 filed the above action through his former lawyers; Johnson and Steller solicitors who are noe replaced by Rosenblatt Limited, a reputable oil and gas law firm of 9-13 St. Andrew street, London”.
“We also have another protective claim in suit number HT 2020-000143 filed on the April 23, 2020”.
“These actions was propelled by gross negligence of Shell Trading and Shipping Company Limited (STATSCO) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) in their Bonga Field Operations when they discharged over 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic ocean”.
“Over 170,000 fisher persons and 450 communities along the Nigeria coastal line between Delta and Bayelsa states were negatively impacted”.
“The pollution from this discharge which covered a distance of over 185 kilometers along the Nigeria coastline compelled fisher persons to desert the sea, polluted farmlands, vegetation and conterminated the environment of Ekeremo southern Ijaw, Brass local government area of Bayelsa state, while in Delta state Warri South, Warri South West, Warri North and Burutu Council area and some Riverine areas in Ondo state”.
“The Shell group threw everything in the ring to contest jurisdiction of the English court to entertain the matter since 2017, but in a judgement handed down by the Hon. Justice Stuart Smith on Match 20, 2020, the English court assumed jurisdiction and ruled in favour of OSPIVV, individual and community claimants in the matter”.
“The matter has since been heard on November 19, 2020 in a case management session by both parties under a new judge, Honourable Justice Mrs O Farrell, which outlined how matters will progress in the main trial”.
“The ongoing action is to compell the Shell group and its subsidiaries to do the clean up, rectification, restoration, compensation and damages occasioned by the negative impact of the December 20, 2011 Bonga spill”, he concluded.