Rev. Nnimo Bassey, an architect, is an environmentalist. In this interview, Bassey speaks on oil spillages in the Niger Delta among other issues.
What is your reaction to the recent judgment against Shell Petroleum Development Company?
We have two judgments against SPDC in recent times. On the 20th of February, 2021, there was one in the Netherlands in the case that was filed over 30 years ago by farmers from four communities.
Two of the cases were from Oruma and one case from Goi in Ogoni in Rivers State, and one case from Ikoroada Udoh in Akwa-Ibom State. Then, on the 12th of February, 2021 there was another judgment in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in a case against SPDC for pollution in Bille and Oghali in Ogoniland.
So, having those two judgments coming one after the other against Shell in the year when the world was in distress was good news indeed for the suffering people of the Niger Delta. The case decided in the Appeal Court in the Netherlands came after the lower court had more or less rejected the same that they could not sue them; in fact, the lower court had said that spillage was caused by sabotage. But the court in its ruling decided that they cannot just washed their hands off the pollution incident without taking responsibility.
The judge asked Shell to install equipment that will monitor and detect any leakage from their pipelines especially those ones that passed through Oruma. They could detect the leakages in the pipelines and stop the flow on their pipelines whenever the problem occurred, so that they could take action. In the case in the United Kingdom, the lower court had said that Shell could not be sued in the country for issues arising from outside the UK such as what happened in Nigeria.