Shell Nigeria Faced With $1 Billion Lawsuit

Oct 27, 2011 – The Royal Dutch Shell Nigeria, is currently faced with a $1 billion law suit over the frequent oil spills and pervasive air pollution from its refining operations in Ogoni land, Delta state.

King Emere Okpabi of Ogoni land and four other traditional leadersfiled a lawsuit in a Detroit federal court, Michigan, USA, last week seeking compensation for half a century of pollution by the oil and gas company. The leaders also accused Shell of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, gross negligence and the violation of international treaties and obligations to the United States and Nigeria.

The lawsuit, which seeks the immediate cleanup of the pollution and an injunction to require air and water monitoring, also wants $1 billion compensation for damages to the people of the land.

King Okpabi claimed that the Company was yet to pay the $1.5 billion settlement in a case accusing it of pollution damages to the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta and that Shell was yet to comply with the 2005 order to stop gas flaring.

The Oil and Gas company has been accused of several crimes against the Ogoni people. In 2009, it  agreed to pay $15.5 million to settle a case accusing it of taking part in human rights abuses in the Niger Delta in the early 1990s, a striking sum given that the company denied any wrongdoing. It was also accused of influencing the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa (founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni Peoples in 1990) in 1995.

Saro-Wiwa, Shell’s most prominent critic at that time in Nigeria, was killed by the military regime, after protesting the company’s environmental practices in the oil-rich delta, especially in his native Ogoni region.

The US Supreme Court plans to consider the lawsuit.