"Don't blame us for your abuse, blame your government" Shell tells Niger Delta at Tribunal

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Amnesty International: Taking Shell to task.

LONDON: 21/01/2011

A major square up is building up between Nigerian government and the Board and Management of Royal Dutch Shell oil Company as the oil company has placed an  over almost 50 years of  ecological abuse and economic deprivation in the Niger Delta area of the Country on the doorstep of Nigerian government.

Shell claimed lack of security in Niger Delta area had resulted in the years of environmental pollution in the area.

It is an excuse the Nigerian government may not acceded to as Shell for long had been put in the ‘dock’ by several world bodies over Human right abuses in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.

In a major defence put up on Wednesday before a tribunal  hearing in the Hague,  Ian Craig, Shell’s director for sub-Saharan Africa, claimed that sabotage by Nigerian militants opposing drilling in the area has been  responsible for 70% of oil spills in the troubled Niger Delta region.

He also claimed that  Shell had compensated residents of the area for pollution caused by pipeline corrosion or lack of those pipeline  maintenance. He claimed  paying further for sabotage would would amount to over pampering of the residents claiming that any  payment fuel “incentivise” attacks from Militants.

Ian Craig, head of Shell Exploration & Production for Sub-Saharan Africa, also told the hearing in the Dutch parliament that Shell (LSE:RDSB.L – news) has no plans to pull out of Nigeria, claiming no scenario has called for that.

The conglomerate has been cornered during the hearing as Amnesty International and other Human Right bodies are seeking justice for the oil pollution victims in the Niger Delta area of the South-Southern region of Nigeria.

As the tribunal action now forces the company to express its mind on the situation and especially the plight of thousand of abused victims, Shell has confidently placed the blame of many years of allegations of abuse on the doorstep of the Nigerian government which it (Shell) claimed refused to provide reliable security  in the area.

At the Wednesday hearing, Shell executives insisted they would not pay  compensation for even up to 2,000 oil spills caused by ‘sabotage’.

Seeking for Justice: Dutch Parliament

The company has pledged to appeal a $100m (£63m) fine from a Nigerian court for a 40-year-old oil spill and blames an oversight from the country’s government. “When it comes to issues of the safety of people and crime, it’s the responsibility of the government. That’s not happening. But you can’t lay it on our doorstep,” said Peter de Wit, director of Shell Netherlands.

Many people have been seriously dehumanised,

farms conterminated and  livestock exterminated through Shell’s exploration activities ad the oil company has been accused for several years of social and moral indiscipline during  exploration activities.

Now the company  has been forced to defend its record on oil spills and human rights activities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region  in the face of a barrage of criticism before a panel of Dutch politicians currently holding sessions in court Tribunal hearing.

Dutch politicians few months ago had said they wanted to intervene in the oil imbroglio to dig out the truth about the state of affairs in the area as Shell has refused to live up to its ecological expectations and has denied residents compensation having been accused of not doing enough.

At the hearing in the The Hague, Shell (LSE: RDSB.L – news) had been  bombarded with accusations from Amnesty International and other pressure groups who claim as many as 9m barrels have been spilt in the African nation since oil exploration began in the 1950s.

Not only are campaigners angry about alleged oil spills, but also pollution caused by flaring gas from drilling operations into the atmosphere.

On Wednesday, Shell executives insisted they would not pay compensation for up to 2,000 oil spills caused by sabotage.

The company has pledged to appeal a $100m (£63m) fine from a Nigerian court for a 40-year-old oil spill and blames an oversight from the country’s government. “When it comes to issues of the safety of people and crime, it’s the responsibility of the government. That’s not happening. But you can’t lay it on our doorstep,” said Peter de Wit, director of Shell Netherlands.

Ian Craig, Shell’s director for sub-Saharan Africa, said sabotage by Nigerian militants opposing drilling in the area is responsible for 70% of oil spills in the troubled Niger Delta region.

He said Shell compensates residents for pollution caused by pipeline corrosion or lack of maintenance. However, he said paying for sabotage would “incentivise” attacks.

Last year, Shell pledged to put $700m (£486m) towards phasing out the controversial practice of gas flaring at up to 75% of its operations in Nigeria.

It has been a long held believe in Nigeria that Shell dominates governance in Nigeria in the wake of government always defending its causes each time locals rose up to defend their rights in the area.

Was instrumental to Shell's success during his regime. Billions of Dollars stashed away from nation!

It is a common rumour and believe in Nigeria that Shell dictated the pace and texture of government in Nigeria during the Military era, a fact drawn home late last year when  it emerged in US diplomatic cables released on the Wikileaks website that Shell’s Nigeria head, Ann Pickard, claimed to have infiltrated the country’s government.

Shell though claimed that  the statement was “absolutely untrue, false and misleading” but during the reign of former General Sanni Abacha, villages were attacked and levelled to the ground as the government acted to pave the way for Shell exploration activities.

Human Rights activist, Ken SAro Wiwa was a victim of government’s defence of Shell interests as the former was killed by hanging after the Military brought him into trial for leading anti exploration activities in the area.

Many of Shell’s committed ecological crimes in Nigeria’s Niger Delta were done during the Military regime, which spanned almost 40 0f the nation’s 50 years of Independence.

The Nigerian government under the current civilian may take Shell to task over the security claim as it may be viewed as attempts by Shell to dodge its commitment and responsibility to the area where it has made fortune in almost fifty years.

The company has been trying to sell up to $4bn (£2.6bn) of onshore oil assets in Nigeria for more than a year.

Source and addition:  Telegraph