Following a disagreement on the amount to be paid as compensation over the 2009 major oil spill that devastated their environment, the people of Bodo community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have again dragged Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited before a London Court.
The action was as a result of the failure of an out-of-court settlement between the community and Shell.
Former Secretary of Bodo Council of Chiefs and Elders, Chief Saint Pii, told journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, that the community decided to return to court because Shell refused to pay the 500 million pounds they demanded as compensation as part of the out-of-court settlement.
Pii said: “We demanded for about 500 million pounds from Shell as compensation for the oil spill which damaged our sources of livelihood. Our lawyer, Leigh Day and Company, a London-based legal firm, first demanded for one billion pounds on our behalf, but we asked him to come down to 500 million pounds. Our lawyer came back to tell us that Shell offered seven million pounds.
“Since negotiation has failed, we are going back to court. Already, we have filed our documents through our lawyer at a London court. We first agreed to settle-out-of-court because we don’t know how long the matter will last in court.”
He accused Shell of trying to pay peanuts as compensation to the over 10,000 indigenes of Bodo community as well as organisations that were affected by the oil spill, which occurred as a result of equipment failure in the oil giant’s facilities located in the community.
According to him, “Shell wanted to pay us peanuts. The first amount offered to Bodo community as compensation was one million pounds and that was in 2012. We rejected it. So, we went back again to renegotiate. This time, they came and offered seven million pounds and my community rejected it.
“We rejected the amount because we are over 10,000 adults in the community, according to the 2006 national population census. If you divide seven million pounds amongst us, it will give you about N250,000 per person.
“Also, there were individual claims; there were community claims. For instance, I belong to a cooperative society, whose membership is drawn from fishermen and farmers and we made our claims. So, what Shell offered was inadequate and unrealistic.”
Officials of Shell did not respond to call for their comment as at the time of going to press.
Information from This Day was used in this report.