by Bayo Akinloye
The Bodo community in Rivers State has rejected an offer of up to $51m from Royal Dutch Shell for two oil spills in 2008 depriving the residents of their livelihood.
Their British lawyers said this on Friday after winning a landmark court ruling in Britain.
Shell has already accepted responsibility for paying compensation and cleaning up spills caused by its own failures.
“Shell have consistently sought to underestimate the damage whilst paying only lip service to an apology. These spills, which are some of the largest oil spills in history, have devastated a community of many thousands of people and ravaged the environment,” Martyn Day, one of the lawyers representing Bodo community, said in a statement.
“The offer of 30 million pounds ($51m) has been offered before and has been flatly refused by our clients who found it insulting and derisory, nothing has changed this view.”
Around 11,000 residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta represented by law firm Leigh Day appealed in 2011 to a London court for compensation for the spilling of 500,000 barrels of oil, according to Shell.
Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, Mutiu Sunmonu, however said that the company had accepted responsibility for the “deeply regrettable” spills and urged the fishermen to accept Shell’s “sensible and fair compensation offers.”
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” Sunmonu said in a statement.
“We hope the community will now direct their UK legal representatives to stop wasting even more time pursuing enormously exaggerated claims and consider sensible and fair compensation offers,” Sunmonu said.
In a preliminary hearing ahead of a trial which will take place in May 2015, the London high court ruled that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary could be liable if it were proven that it did not take reasonable steps to protect and maintain the pipeline from thefts which have plagued the key African oil.