Stalled Bodo Compensation Talks Exposed Shell’s Insincerity, says ERA/FoEN

The mired settlement talks between the Bodo community and Shell over the latter’s pollution of their environment in 2008 has vindicated community folks and environmental groups that expressed skepticism about Shell’s genuineness from the beginning when it was announced that the talks will hold behind closed doors, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has said.  
ERA/FoEN position is premised on the outright rejection of an offer of $50 million (about N7. 5 billion) compensation offered by Shell after week-long talks, which Leigh Day, the legal firm representing 15,000 affected Bodo community folks described as “delusory and an insult”. The community folks insist Shell must pay $200 million.

Talks between the company and the London-based legal firm began on Monday September 9, 2013 in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and failed to produce any result by Friday, as the community rejected Shell’s offer.
While Shell admitted responsibility for two documented spills, it continues to dispute the impact. Experts have estimated that over 500,000 barrels of oil spilled into wetlands, swamps and the Bodo environment due to faulty equipment of Shell but the company insists only 4,100 barrels spilled into the environment.
Sylvester Kogbara, chair of Bodo Council said: “It is a great shame that the negotiations have not led to a settlement. I had hoped that we would at last see the end of the litigation to enable us start the process of rebuilding the community”

But ERA/FoEN in a statement issued in Lagos said: The stalling of the talks did not come to the environmental community as a surprise. Instead, it confirmed a long-standing belief that Shell was continuing a tradition of lack of transparency which it has employed to perpetrate ecocide while blaming community folks for its own negligence, deliberate or otherwise.

“From the outset of the talks we knew the closed door arrangement was dubious. We found it really disturbing that the company preferred a pillow-talk rather than put the issues in the public domain. The decision of the Bodo community to reject pittance is really commendable”, said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo.
Ojo insisted that Shell’s intention from the beginning of the talks was publicity stunt to deceive the outside world while buying time to escape responsibility or as usual, pass it on to third parties.

“No one is new to Shell’s denial of responsibility or outright downplaying of spill volumes. But we find it totally absurd that after five years’ wait for justice by the Bodo community folks Shell is still involved in rigmarole. That the company is offering such demeaning sum for its destruction of the environment and the resultant loss of livelihoods is totally objectionable.”

He charged Bodo community folks to remain resolute in their demands which must include remediation, even as he stressed that compensation without remediation will amount to nothing when fishing and farming practices have been permanently altered.

“The Bodo community folks must remain steadfast in demanding the right due. Shell must make its cleanup and remediation plans public if it has nothing to hide. Shell has no excuse this time. The company destroyed the environment and local livelihoods and must be made to pay the full cost of the damage including environmental remediation. We demand nothing less”, Ojo insisted.

Philip Jakpor
Head of Media

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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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