Quantcast

4 Nigerian Farmers Cleared to Sue Shell Over Oil Spills in Landmark Court Ruling

Energy

Four Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth Netherlands welcome today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals in The Hague allowing them to jointly sue Shell in the Netherlands for causing extensive oil spills in Nigeria.

The ruling is unique and can pave the way for victims of environmental pollution and human rights abuses worldwide to turn to the Netherlands for legal redress when a Dutch company is involved. In addition to competence question, the court also ruled in favor of Friends of the Earth Netherlands and the Nigerian farmers regarding the issue of access to internal company documents, Shell must give access to internal company documents.

"Today's ruling is a landslide victory for environmentalists and these four brave Nigerian farmers who, for more than seven years, have had the courage to take on one of the most powerful companies in the world," Geert Ritsema, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said. "This ruling is a ray of hope for other victims of environmental degradation, human rights violations and other misconduct by large corporations."

Alali Efanga is one of the Nigerian farmers who, along with Friends of the Earth, brought the case against Shell. "This ruling offers hope that Shell will finally begin to restore the soil around my village so that I will once again be able to take up farming and fishing on my own land," Efanga said.

“This is in every respect a landmark case," Channa Samkalden, legal counsel for Friends of the Earth and the Nigerian farmers, said.

Shell Forced to Disclose Internal Documents

The Court of The Hague ruled in favor of the farmers and Milieudefensie on all procedural issues in the case, which has dragged on for more than seven years because of various legal obstacles raised by Shell which seriously delayed proceedings. Amongst other things, the court ruled in favor of Friends of the Earth Netherlands and the Nigerian farmers regarding the issue of access to internal company documents, which a lower court had earlier denied.

"This is the first time in legal history that access to internal company documents was obtained in court," Samkalden said. "An appropriate ruling, because these documents may contain important corroborating evidence regarding the oil spills caused by Shell affecting these farmers’ land and fishing ponds. This finally allows the case to be considered on its merits.”

The Case

In 2008, four Nigerian citizens—Friday Alfred Akpan from Ikot Ada Udo, Eric Dooh from Goi and Alali Efanga en Fidelis Oguru from Oruma—together with Friends of the Earth Netherlands took Shell to court over oil spills that had polluted their fields and their fish farming ponds. Once proud owners of flourishing farms, they were now reduced to poverty and forced to survive on odd jobs, because the oil spills were never properly cleaned up and their land and fish ponds remain unusable to this day.

The plaintiffs demand that Shell cleans up the oil spills, compensates them for their losses and prevents new leakages by ensuring that the company’s pipelines are properly maintained and patrolled. Friends of the Earth Netherlands is a co-plaintiff.

In January 2013, the courts in The Hague ruled that Shell was guilty of causing pollution on the land of Friday Alfred Akpan. Shell appealed this decision, while Friends of the Earth Netherlands and the Nigerians appealed the rejection of the demands of the remaining three farmers.

Nigerian Oil Spill

The case of the four Nigerian farmers is only the tip of the iceberg. For decades, Nigeria has been the stage of the largest oil spill on Earth. Over the years, an amount of oil double to that of the sinking of the Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 has leaked into the environment. A 2011 report published by United Nations Environment Programme shows Shell doing far too little to clean up the leaked oil.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

African Catholic Groups Call on Pope Francis to Support Divestment From Fossil Fuels Movement

Exxon Warns Climate Inaction Risks Warming Far Beyond 2 Degrees

21 Teens Tell Exxon and Koch Brothers: Get Out of Our Lawsuit

4 Ways Exxon Stopped Action on Climate Change

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Emily Moran

If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."

Read More Show Less

By Catherine Davidson

Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.

Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.

Read More Show Less

The Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington is looking to recruit 10,000 dogs to study for the next 10 years to see if they can improve the life expectancy of man's best friend and their quality of life, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less