By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Elders of Bolo communities in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State, have dragged the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd., before a Federal High Court in Abuja, alleging fraud in the ongoing Ogoni oil spill clean-up.
The communities, in the suit, told the court that compensation that ought to be given to them following two massive oil spills that occurred in their area between 2008 and 2009, was diverted.
While Kachikwu, Baru and Shell are first, third and seventh defendants, respectively, other defendants in the matter are the Minister of Environment, the Chairman and members of the Board of Trustees of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, Chairman and members of Governing Council of HYPREP and the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil.
They said the spills were from the 24-inch Trans-Niger Pipeline, owned by Shell, the seventh defendant.
They are also demanding N5 billion as general damages against the seventh defendant for misrepresentation and attempt to erode the dignity and deprive the plaintiffs of their constitutional rights under the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The plaintiffs, in the suit by two representatives of the Amayanabo chiefs, Chief Inyengimiesi Ayomadiki and Chief Marshal Da-Ockiya Oforibokakaka, through their lawyer, Mr. Ngo Obanga, told the court that Shell admitted liability over the spills that affected their swamps, creeks, drinking water sources, fishes, environment and lifestyle.
According to them, when the UNEP report was released in August 2011, their communities discovered that oil wells facilities in Bodo West oil fields operated by Shell were arbitrarily regarded as part of Ogoniland oil facilities with compensation that ought to have been paid to them diverted.
They told the court that the Federal Government also sidelined them in HYPREP that was set up in 2016 to oversee the clean-up and restoration of polluted areas.