The Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay financial compensation to Nigeria for a 1970 oil spillage in communities in the south of the country. The spillage affected some Ogoni communities in Rivers State.
Lawyers involved in the case say an agreement has been reached to pay those communities $111 million. “The order for the payment of [$111m] to the claimants is for full and final satisfaction of the judgment,” a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, of Nigeria Limited, said on Wednesday.
Lawyer for the affected communities, Lucius Nwosa, confirmed the settlement agreement which was reached at the Federal High Court in Abuja. “They ran out of tricks and decided to come to terms,” the lawyer said, according to the Guardian. “The decision is a vindication of the resoluteness of the community for justice.
The oil giant reportedly told the court that it has reached an out of court agreement with the affected communities to perfect all modalities for payment but the lawyer for the Ogoni communities drew the attention of the court to the fact that contrary to the existing judgment, Shell was refusing to pay compensation directly to the affected families.
Shell, according to the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, wanted to lodge the monies into the account of the Chief Registrar of the high court. However, Nwosa argued that it would be wrong for the judgment debt to be paid through the Chief Registrar of the court.
“He maintained that such payment would be at variance with a judgment of both the high court and the Supreme Court, which he said ordered direct payment to Ogoni communities,” the platform reported.
The affected communities also wanted interest paid on the settlement fee amounting to $7 million. However, the court rejected the claim of accrued interest saying it was not contained in an affidavit before it.
Last year, Nigeria’s Supreme Court rejected a motion by Shell to set aside the compensation. The country’s apex court held that the oil giant’s review application lacked merit.
Nigeriana reported in February this year that the United Kingdom Supreme Court ruled that a group of about 50,000 Nigerian farmers and fishermen can sue Royal Dutch Shell in British courts over oil spillage in the Niger Delta that has polluted their land and water bodies.
The court’s judgment overruled an earlier verdict by a British lower court that said Shell had no case to answer to the farmers and fishermen from the Ogale and Bille communities in Niger Delta.
The claimants said their lives have been affected by years of oil spillage from pipelines operated by Shell, affecting their economic activities as well. They also added that they brought the case to Britain because they have little hope of success in Nigerian courts.