Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State at the weekend protested the Appeal Court?s ruling on the $1.5 billion compensation suit against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria over oil spillage in their communities.
Oil-spill-Deepwater-Horiz-006The two chambers of the National Assembly had ordered Shell to pay the $1.5 billion compensation to the 145 Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State for the hazards the company caused them.
But Shell disagreed with the National Assembly?s order.
The Ijaw communities filed a suit against the company at a Federal High Court and obtained what they called an unfavorable judgment.
The court upheld the National Assembly?s proclamation on the matter.
Not satisfied, Shell approached the Appeal Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. The court struck out the case on the ground that the National Assembly was not competent to award monetary penalties.
Spokesman of the affected Ijaw communities, Chief Pere Ajuwa, disagreed with the ruling.
He said the ruling did not take into cognisance the various evidence the communities? lawyer presented.
Ajuwa, a former presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the 2007 general elections, told reporters in Abuja that the ruling was a miscarriage of justice.
The spokesman noted that there was overwhelming evidence of deaths, oil spillages and environmental pollution in the communities because of Shell?s exploration activities.
He said the communities would petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate the matter.
Ajuwa said: ?We have been in a battle with Shell Development Petroleum Company of Nigeria. When the traditional rulers? council of Bayelsa State invited me to handle the case, I gave them my conditions, which included non-violence from any Ijaw group.
?In 2003, a commission of enquiry was called at the National Assembly and there has not been any case of violence against Shell since that period till now.
?But in this process, we have been undermined, even by certain agents of government and Shell. The commission of enquiry specified that 1,247 indigenes of Bayelsa State died because of Shell?s oil pollution. There was an unmitigated outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases. This figure was confirmed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
?I have never seen a place where blood is shed, yet the law enforcement agencies and, even the Judiciary, would shut their eye to the people?s grievances. The Ijaw have kept faith with the non-violence agreement they reached with me.
?The National Assembly proclaimed that Shell was guilty of environmental degradation, which led to the death of several people. Shell was asked to pay the 145 Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State $1.5 billion. But Shell went through the courts and said the National Assembly could not give a legislative judgment or award such an amount of money to the Ijaw nation.?

source: Saint Mienpamo

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