Jan 21, 2013

Verdict due in case against Shell

by Denis Burke — last modified Jan 21, 2013 06:05 PM

Four Nigerians who have been victims of multinational oil giant Shell’s polluting activities in the Niger Delta are striving for justice. They are hoping a Dutch court will issue a verdict in their favour on 30 January, as part of a ground-breaking legal case filed against the Anglo-Dutch oil corporation.


Plaintiffs outside court. Friends of the Earth Netherlands/ Pierre Crom

On 11 October 2012, the court in The Hague heard their case against Shell, the first time in history that a company had been brought before a Dutch court to account for environmental damage caused overseas. The four plaintiffs are farmers and fishermen from the villages of Goi, Ikot Ada Udo and Oruma in the Niger Delta.


The October 2012 date was a landmark in itself. It signaled to Shell and other multinational corporations that they cannot act with impunity in other parts of the world. Residents of the Niger Delta may feel relieved or vindicated if the company assumes a more responsible attitude.

The four Nigerians are demanding that Shell cleans up the oil pollution in their communities, compensates those affected and prevent further leaks from occurring. The communities of the Niger Delta depend primarily on the environment for their livelihoods, including farming and fishing. Oil industry operations in the Niger Delta have damaged or destroyed local food and water supplies, biodiversity and fishing ponds and crops that locals had used to earn money.

Companies such as Shell purportedly engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) through, for example, the construction of health clinics. CSR projects in the oil communities of Nigeria are accounted for as part of the production costs of crude oil and are thus not actually funded from the massive profits of the companies. They constitute nothing more than tokenism and smokescreens.

The case was brought to the court with the assistance of Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) working closely with Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria).



Coverage from the last hearing in October, 2012


Resources for journalists including photos and media coverage of the case so far



Chief Eric Dooh is one of the plaintiffs


Plaintiff Alali Efanga is taking Shell to court for pollution in Nigeria