LAGOS, NIGERIA, April 11, 2006 – The Nigerian High Court decided today that oil giant Shell must stop flaring gas in the Iwherekan community in Delta State by April 2007, in a welcome victory for the mostly poor people affected by the damaging and wasteful practice of flaring in the oil-rich Niger delta.
Shell’s managing director in Nigeria and the Nigerian Minister for Petroleum have to appear in person before the judge in open court on May 31 in Benin City with detailed plans for putting gas flares out by April 2007.
In an earlier judgement of the High Court on 14th November 2005 the judge ordered the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (Shell Nigeria) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta, as gas flaring violates guaranteed constitutional rights to life and dignity. Flaring in the community has continued despite the November judgment in favour of local resident Mr Jonah Gbemre and the Iwherekan community.
Nigeria has been the world’s biggest gas flarer, and the practice has contributed more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined, as well as poisoning localities with their toxic cocktail.
The practice costs Nigeria about US$2.5 billion annually, while about 66% of its population live on less than US$1 a day. Shell Nigeria has said that it does not plan to stop flaring before the end of 2009.
Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said: “We expect this judgment to be respected and that for once the oil corporations will accept the truth and bring their damaging and wasteful flaring activities to a halt.”
“Oil giant Shell was told twice now to stop gas flaring. Nevertheless, Shell plans to continue flaring until 2009. It is time that Shell starts to respect Nigerian law and stops breaching human rights in the Iwherekan community and in the rest of Nigeria,“ added Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International.
In a February 2006 unrelated development, the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Port Harcourt ordered Shell and its partners to pay Southern Niger Delta Ijaw communities $1.5 billion in compensation for environmental pollution and degradation in the Delta. The sum was ordered by the Nigerian parliament in August 2004.
IMAGES of gas flaring are available from http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/images/shell_nigeria_2006
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria:
Chima Williams, lawyer +234 80 388 59477 +234 80 236 49890
Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director +234 52602680 (office) +234 8037274395 (mobile)
In the UK:
Climate Justice Programme, Peter Roderick, co-Director + 44 20 7388 3141
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International
Tel: +32-473 510147 or email: email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
 A copy of the November 2005 court order is available here :
 More information on the gas flaring in Nigeria is available in a report published in June 2005 by the Climate Justice Programme and Environmental Rights Action, ‘Gas Flaring in Nigeria: A human rights, environmental and economic monstrosity’.