By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS— A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has awarded N10 billion in favour of Chief M. Ajanaku and others, for themselves and on behalf of fishing communities of Lagos against Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited over oil spill.
Trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, in a landmark judgment in favour of the plaintiffs, granted all their claims, save the claim of interest.
The suit lasted 14 years before judgment and prosecuted by the law firm of Babalakin and Co.
The suit was instituted in 2002 pursuant to the Idoho-QIT Mobil pipeline rupture which resulted in the release of about 40,000 barrels (approximately 6,000 tonnes) (7,637,280 litres) of Nigeria Qua Iboe light crude oil into the marine environment on January 12, 1998.
The rupture was as a result of rust and corrosion of the 24 inches pipeline which, at the time of the spill was about 25 years old. The site of the rupture/burst is in Akwa Ibom State but the spill did spread to other parts of the country, including Lagos (the plaintiffs’ communities) for about 850 km of Nigeria’s coastline and up to Republic of Benin.
Justice Buba, who later took over the case, in his judgment, upheld the plaintiffs claims, holding that the defendant’s continuing failure, neglect and refusal to undertake post impact remediation measures to restore the ecosystem of the lands and waters of life inhabited by the plaintiffs and where they carry on their occupation of fishing and fish farming, is unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of the plaintiffs’ right to life, including awarding damage of N10 billion.