BY GODWIN ORITSE
Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO, was, yesterday, ordered by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the National Oil Spill Response and Emergency Agency, NOSREA, to pay a total of $11.5 billion, about N1.84 trillion, as fines and compensation for the 2011 Bonga oil spill incident.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, Director General, NIMASA, said the maritime agency calculated a total of $6.5 billion, about N1.04 trillion, as compensation to be paid to the communities affected by the spill.
Meanwhile, the Director General of NOSREA, Mr. Peter Idabo said that on its part, it fined Shell $5 billion, about N800 billion for the oil spill incident.
Explaining his experience during the investigation of the spill, the NIMASA boss said that Shell tried as much as possible to frustrate the agency’s moves to get to the site of the spill, adding that the agency had to step in immediately after the spill by providing some stop gap measures such as providing relief materials to some of the communities.
He lampooned Shell and its allies over their nonchalant attitude towards the spill and called on the organisation to take responsibility for its actions and ensure that such does not repeat itself.
He said: “The kind of impunity Shell and its allies have demonstrated so far in the Niger Delta area in the past must stop if the future of the people of Nigeria and the environment are to be protected.
“And in other climes when spills like this occur, the first thing is remuneration, attention to the affected communities and finding ways of reducing the suffering of the people and restoring the eco-system, but Shell fell short of all these criteria and of course, it is sad that it is only in Nigeria that we can witness this degree of impunity.”