Controversy has continued to trail the compensation agreement between the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and some oil ravaged communities in the Niger Delta.
Shell, through its spokesman, Precious Okolobo, said it would only pay lawful compensation to communities affected by oil spillage in Rivers State. The company would be fair in paying damages to communities that have suffered environmental degradation as a result of oil spillage, he said.
He said the company has not been able to provide compensation to members of the Bodo community because the matter is in court.
“Be informed that Bodo oil spill is the subject of court suits in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and as much as SPDC desires to pay fair and lawful compensation, we can only begin to do so when the court proceedings are over.”
But the affected communities, Bodo, K dere, Goi and Kpor have decried the attitude of Shell towards paying compensation to them, claiming that the company is playing politics with their future.
The Director of Programmes, Centre for Environment and Human Rights, Steven Obodoekwe, who is from Bodo, said litigations would not have arisen if Shell had conformed to the rules that people who suffer from oil pollution, among other hazards, must be paid compensation as early as possible.
He said the communities resorted to legal action because Shell reneged on its promise to adequately compensate them, noting that Shell’s refusal to pay compensation was part of its agenda to continue to deny the oil communities of their entitlements.
‘‘Some of the communities are not aware of the moves to compensate them. The Bodo case is back in a London court because Shell was planning to pay the community a meagre amount of money. Shell is fund of blaming oil spillage among other untoward practices in the region on saboteurs because it wants to evade its responsibility of paying for damages,’’ he said.
Also, the President, Movement for the Emancipation of Ogoni People (Mosop), Legbosi Pyagbara said the communities and Shell were unable to reach agreement on the issue of compensation.
Mosop said the communities have asked for a review of the compensation scheme, following the decision of Shell to pay them a meagre amount of money.
‘’Shell has accepted liability as regards Bodo community a few years ago. Up till now, the company has not paid the community. Some communities have filed a case against Shell in Netherlands because they are unable to receive compensation. The communities have realised that they cannot achieve anything with the money Shell is planning to pay them.
‘’For instance, when a man whose land was destroyed was offered between N100,000 and N200,000, what is he going to do with the money. In real terms, what Shell offered is below the value of the crops that were destroyed by oil,’’ Mosop stated.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.