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Supreme Court allows Shell hearing in a case

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By Abraham Adekunle

Legal battles continue as the apex court overturns appeal court ruling.

In a recent development, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has overturned the judgment of the Court of Appeal, granting Shell Plc, a Britain-based multinational oil and gas company, a hearing over its alleged involvement in an oil spill in the Niger Delta. This decision has raised eyebrows and reignited discussions surrounding the accountability of multinational corporations operating in the region. Shell has been entangled in multiple lawsuits over alleged oil spills dating back to 1995, with more than a hundred spills reported in Nigeria. The case in question originated in November 2020 in the High Court, where Shell was ordered to pay ₦800 billion (approximately USD 878 million) as compensation to the communities of Egbalor Ebubu in River state. The communities accused the company of causing an oil spill that damaged their waterways and farms.

However, the legal saga took a turn when Shell appealed the High Court judgment in the Court of Appeals. The appellate court not only halted the company’s sale of local assets but also demanded the deposit of a fee before allowing the appeal to proceed. The recent ruling by the Nigeria Supreme Court has now granted Shell the opportunity to present its case, effectively challenging the previous orders that restrained its operations. This legal battle is just one instance in a series of lawsuits against Shell for its alleged environmental negligence in the Niger Delta. The company has been reporting oil spills since 1995, and the frequency of these incidents has raised concerns about the impact on local communities and the environment.

Foreign courts have also weighed in on the matter.

One of the most significant incidents that drew international attention occurred in 2011 when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a damning report on the devastating impacts of an oil spill in Ogoniland, Nigeria. The report outlined the urgent need for a cleanup, estimating an initial investment of USD 1 billion for the first five years. Unfortunately, as of 2020, only 11% of the planned cleanup sites had seen any remediation efforts, leaving large portions of the affected area still contaminated.

International courts have also weighed in on the matter. In a case before the United Kingdom Supreme Court in May 2023, the court ruled in favor of Shell in Jalla v. Shell International Trading and Shipping Company. The court deemed it “too late” for the petitioners to sue Shell over the 2011 offshore oil spill, citing a six-year limitation period. This decision raised questions about the accessibility of legal recourse for those affected by environmental disasters.

Amnesty Int’l says challenges persist in dealing with the issue in Nigeria.

Similarly, the Dutch Court of Appeal in 2021 ruled in favor of four Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization, in a legal dispute against Shell. As a consequence, Shell in the Netherlands agreed to pay EUR 15 million to the affected Nigerians in December 2022. These international legal battles underscore the complexities of holding multinational corporations accountable for their actions in different jurisdictions. Despite the legal victories, a May 2023 report by Amnesty International highlighted the persistent challenges in dealing with oil spills in Nigeria. The report emphasized flaws in the “Joint Investigation Visit” (JIV) process, which is meant to assess key information related to oil spills.

According to the report, the JIV process fails to adequately identify the volume, cause, and impact of oil spills, further exacerbating the plight of local communities. Amnesty International’s Director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, condemned the poor regulatory system in Nigeria, stating that the level of contamination and pollution in the Niger Delta would have triggered swift and severe consequences in Europe or North America. This assertion raises concerns about the effectiveness of the regulatory framework in Nigeria and the need for reforms to protect the rights of affected communities.

Related Article: Shell oil spill contaminates farms and river 

The recurring theme in these legal battles is the violation of human rights for the communities in the Niger Delta. The environmental impact of oil spills on waterways, farms, and livelihoods cannot be understated, and the slow pace of cleanup efforts further compounds the challenges faced by those affected. The legal battles against Shell also shed light on the need for stronger regulatory mechanisms and international collaboration to address the transnational nature of environmental issues. As the legal proceedings continue, it remains to be seen how the Nigeria Supreme Court’s recent decision will impact the larger discourse on corporate responsibility and environmental justice in the Niger Delta. The plight of the affected communities underscores the urgency of addressing the root causes of oil spills and implementing effective measures to prevent further environmental degradation in the region.

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1 month ago

Nigeria to plant 400 million trees by July. – In both Christianity and Islam, the act of planting trees is greatly promoted. – Express your point of view.

1 month ago

The Supreme Court’s decision allowing Shell to present its case raises concerns about corporate accountability. The ongoing legal battles highlight the challenges in holding multinational corporations responsible for environmental damage. The plight of affected communities underscores the need for stronger regulatory measures and international collaboration to address the environmental impact of oil spills in the Niger Delta. It’s a reminder of the urgency in implementing reforms to protect the rights of those affected and prevent further environmental degradation.

1 month ago

The news that the Supreme Court has granted Shell a hearing in a case and reversed the decision of the appeals court is intriguing. It will be interesting to watch how these cases play out because they can have major ramifications.

1 month ago

Shell is granted a hearing by the Supreme Court in a case. The supreme court reverses an appellate court decision, sparking ongoing legal disputes. The Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the Appeal court marked the end of this shell hearing. This only discusses the judicial hierarchy; the Supreme Court will reach a final ruling.

Adeoye Adegoke
1 month ago

I totally agree with you! The news of Nigeria’s plan to plant 400 million trees by July is truly remarkable. It’s fascinating to see the convergence of environmental conservation and religious teachings in both Christianity and Islam. In Christianity, the act of planting trees can be seen as a reflection of God’s commandment to care for and steward His creation. Trees symbolize life, growth, and the interconnectedness of all living beings. Similarly, in Islam, planting trees is highly encouraged as it aligns with the principles of environmental responsibility and the preservation of God’s blessings. The Quran emphasizes the importance of caring for the Earth and leaving a positive impact for future generations.
This ambitious tree-planting initiative not only addresses the urgent need for reforestation and combating climate change but also serves as a powerful demonstration of the shared values and teachings between different faiths. It highlights the significance of environmental stewardship as a collective responsibility that transcends religious boundaries. By working together to plant trees, we can actively contribute to the restoration of ecosystems, the protection of biodiversity, and the overall well-being of our planet.
I’m truly excited about this initiative and its potential to inspire positive change. It serves as a shining example of how our collective efforts, guided by religious teachings and a shared commitment to the environment, can make a significant difference in creating a sustainable future. Let’s continue to support and celebrate these efforts, as they pave the way for a greener and more harmonious world for all. 🌳🌍