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CSOs to Shell: Take accountability, address environmental degradation in Niger Delta

CSOs to Shell: Take accountability, address environmental degradation in Niger Delta
May 21
16:24 2024

Civil society organisations have asked Shell to address the environmental impacts of its operations in the Niger Delta region.

The CSOs, including Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Heath of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), staged a protest in front of Shell’s head office, located in the Marina area of Lagos, on Monday.

In January, Shell Plc announced plans to sell its Nigerian onshore oil assets to a consortium of local companies for over $1.3 billion.

The company said, subject to following regulatory approvals, it would sell Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).

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The onshore business is to be acquired by Renaissance — a consortium of five companies comprising four exploration and production companies based in Nigeria and an international energy group.

During the protest, the CSOs noted that Shell’s operations have had severe consequences, including climate change, regulatory infractions, and environmental injustice in communities in the Niger Delta region.

In a statement jointly signed by Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA’s executive director, and Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of HOMEF, the groups described Shell’s planned divestment as a “shameless ploy” to offload liabilities to entities with “shadowy backgrounds and limited capacity” to manage the corporation’s extensive liabilities.

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“While the entire leadership of Shell, including its Chairman, Board Members, Directors, and Stakeholders, convenes today in the United Kingdom for its Annual General Meeting (AGM), we gather here in front of its Lagos Head Office in Nigeria to re-state our longstanding grievances,” the groups said.

“Indeed, Shell’s shareholders would rather choose the comfort of the Intercontinental London Hotel to review their deceitful and environmental devastation strategies without any regard for the dignity and sanity of people who are at the receiving end of their hazardous operations.

“They would rather the cozy ambience of artificial nature than care about the growing impact and problems their reckless oil extraction inflicts upon vulnerable communities in Africa and elsewhere.

“In Nigeria, the absurdity reaches new heights as Shell sets to divest its onshore business and offload its toxic assets to Renaissance – a consortium of five companies, including four local exploration and production entities and an international energy group.

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“This polluting corporation, after decades of mindless operations in the country’s Niger Delta region, is about to flee from its atrocities, leaving behind a wake of destruction – of farmlands and water bodies now contaminated with huge deposits of petroleum and of poor communities, livelihoods, and public health wrecked by years of its merciless extractive onslaught.”

‘PAY ADEQUATE COMPENSATION TO AFFECTED COMMUNITIES’

The groups called on the federal government to” act responsibly”, and by extant exit measures and processes to address lingering questions around the environmental audit of the corporation’s “infractions” and compensation plans for affected citizens of the Niger Delta region.

The groups noted that the connection between natural resource exploitation and abject poverty is palpable and undeniable in the Niger Delta, adding that Shell and others must be held accountable, or else, poor communities will continue to suffer the devastating consequences of their operations without succour.

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“This includes forcing Shell to decommission its old and toxic infrastructures scattered across the region,” the groups added.

“Shell’s divestment from Nigeria does not absolve it of responsibility. The company must address the environmental destruction, human rights abuses, and social injustices it perpetrated. Before its departure, Shell must commit to implementing the reclamation measures recommended by independent environmental audits and pay adequate compensation to those who have borne the brunt of its profit-driven operations.

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“In this list of oil majors hurting innocent Nigerians, Shell is not alone. A 2023 report commissioned by the Bayelsa State government reveals that over the past fifty years, ninety per cent of the toxic pollution in the Niger Delta – equivalent to at least 110,000 barrels of oil – originated from the facilities of just five international oil giants: Shell, Chevron, Eni, Total, and ExxonMobil.

“We demand that the Nigerian government and governments worldwide prioritise human and environmental dignity over corporate profits.

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“Our call today is for justice. We demand that governments stand with the people, not the profiteers. We call for the enforcement of policies that protect the common good and political will from the government to hold big polluters accountable.”

The groups called for a cleanup, remediation, and restoration of all polluted and contaminated areas linked to Shell’s extractive activities.

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They also asked for an independent and comprehensive assessment of the Niger Delta environment and an open and comprehensive health audit of the people living in extractive communities.

The groups also demanded that these communities are recognised as major stakeholders that must be afforded expression on matters that concern their safety and survival.



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