Ejama-Ebubu Oil Spill: Shell Sues Nigerian Govt Over $479M Compensation Claim

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By Abiola Olawale

The Royal Dutch (RDS) Shell has filed a suit against the Nigerian government at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over a $479 million compensation claim following the environmental ruins in Ejama-Ebubu, Rivers state.

Shell is challenging an order of Supreme Court of Nigeria, on November 30, 2020, which convicted the oil company of environmental damages due to the 1970 oil spillage in the Ejama-Ebubu area.

The information which was made available on the ICSID website revealed that the oil company filed the suit against the Nigerian government on February 10.

The oil company is arguing the court order to pay a total sum of $479 million as compensation for the damages caused by oil spills in Ejama-Ebubu, Rivers State. Shell is arguing its claim in line with the 1992 Netherlands-Nigeria bilateral investment treaty.

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Shell, in the lawsuit denies responsibility for the oil spill, alleging that the spill was caused by third parties during the Nigerian Civil War which occurred between 1967 and 1970.

Recall that people of Ejama Ebubu community took Shell to court in 2001 because of the oil spillage that happened in the community in 1970.

The spillage destroyed the only river serving the community, as well as fish ponds and farm lands.

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However, it took nine years after the case had been filed against Shell, before the presiding Judge, Honorable Justice, Ibrahim Buba, pronounced the verdict. Buba ordered the oil company to pay the people of Ejama-Ebubu the total sum of $100 million as a compensation for the damages the oil spillage caused in the community.

But Shell appealed the judgement at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2010. The oil company said they had wiped out the spillage in the community. The oil company didn’t take responsibility for the spillage adding that it was as a result of the destruction that happened during the Nigerian Civil war in 1967 to 1970.

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On November 30, 2020, a five-member panel of justices dismissed the application on the grounds that it had no merit since the court had taken a decision on the appeal and the court could not reverse itself.

The judgment which was prepared by Justice Centus Nweze and read by Justice Chukwudumebi Oseji in Abuja, held that the the application had no merit. The court ordered the oil company to pay the sum of $479 million.

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