Leaders of the Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), Niger Delta chapter who are victims of the Shell Bonga Oil Spill of December 20, 2011, have demanded the immediate payment of $3.4billion fine from the company, which was imposed on it by National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The victims from the five states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo and Rivers made the demand after a virtual meeting with their lawyers and allies at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
A communiqué signed by Samuel Ayadi, coordinator of ARFAN Niger Delta and Chairman ARFAN, Akwa Ibom State, among others, noted that the fines were upheld by the National Assembly through the House Committee on Environment and the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The communiqué noted that the meeting was held to ex-ray their plight over the past years, efforts made in pursuing justice and restitution since the incident of the Shell Bonga Oil Spill occurred and way forward for the struggle.
The communiqué lamented that Shell’s failure to comply had foisted great hardship on the fishermen on the coastal waters.
The communiqué reads: “This hardship, which has led to the untimely death of many of the members of the association is as a result of the attitude of Shell towards the victims.
“That Shell never empathised with the victims even during the height of the spill even when it had been determined through a Post Impact Assessment that the spill was as a result of operational failure and an estimated 40,000 barrels of crude oil had been pumped into the waters – operational fields of the fishermen/women.”
“The struggles for justice and faith in a peaceful and lawful resolution of the issues of the spill coupled with the fatherly disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari, provided the opportunity for NOSDRA to pronounce fines and awards against Shell to the tune of $3.4 billion.
They further demanded that should Shell want to appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos, they should show good faith by first lodging the judgment sum with the Registry of the Federal High Court.
While noting the firm’s recent expression of commitment to community relations, the victims charged it to pay the fines immediately.