Opinions Mon, 24 Oct 2011

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The case against Shell's operation in Ghana

The case to stop Shell from entering Ghana’s Jubilee field is premised on facts. Shell has been known of their dirty operations in the Niger Delta since the 1950s. Their diabolic acts in the Niger Delta are increasingly being exposed with each passing day. Their worries are on the ascendancy. Communities in the Niger Delta are swiftly demanding justice at the court of law for decades of damages.

Shell’s never-ending atrocities meted out to communities in the Niger Delta will continue to make them irresponsible. On 3 August 2011, Shell admitted responsibility to 2 major oil spills in Bodo after a lawsuit was filed against the oil giant in the High Court in London. Shell now faces a compensation claim of $410 million and could be forced to clean up extensive environmental damage. In the same week, the Environmental Assessment Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) implicated Shell in massive oil spills and pollution and has recommended an initial fund of $1 billion to start the clean up process in Ogoni.

Report by Platform, a UK-based education and research non-governmental organization, titled “Counting the costs: corporations and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta”, indicates roles Shell played in human rights abuses committed by Nigerian government forces and other armed groups between 2000 and 2010. Shell had a hand in a civil war in Rumuekpe that occurred between 2005 and 2008 killing least 60 people, including women and children.

In another fresh law suit, a 32-page civil complaint has been filed Tuesday October 18 at the federal court in Detroit, Michigan against Shell. The suit, according to AFP news on 21 October, was brought on behalf of the people of Ogale in the Eleme local government area, where the UN team found the most serious groundwater contamination and people drinking water laced with cancer-causing benzene at 900 times World Health Organization guidelines.

The lawsuit by filed by King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi and four other tribal leaders in a US court is seeking $1 billion from Royal Dutch Shell to compensate for decades of pollution that sickened his people and damaged their lands. The plaintiffs indicate that Shell's "indiscriminant pollution" has created "severe health hazards" that threatened their lives and violated their right to development.

There is no denying the fact that Shell has left a dreadful legacy in the Niger Delta. They pumped oil in communities that languished abject poverty. In a culture of impunity, Shell repatriated billions of dollars of oil revenues. This did not end there. Shell manipulated 8 villages to fight against one another killing several innocent people. Shell being reluctant is yet to start the clean-up of oil spills. This is an act of insensitivity and irresponsibility.

This is the track record Shell intends to bring to bear in the country. It would simply be disastrous, in the midst of these glaring dishonorable acts, for Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Parliament and the government of Ghana to sanction a ‘convict’ to operate in the Jubilee field. I can with outright confidence predict that Shell would be an albatross hanging around the neck of Ghana if they are allowed to explore oil.

Shell is capable of exacting huge environmental, social and economic costs on the economy of Ghana. Shell should be prevented from entering the oil industry. Shell’s battered corporate image is most undeserving for exploration in the Jubilee field. GNPC and government of Ghana must drive Shell out of the Jubilee field.

Shell should exhibit a sense of responsibility by cleaning up the mess they caused in the Niger Delta. The people in the Ogoniland deserve better living conditions.

BY: Stephen Yeboah, Campaign against Shell Operations in Ghana. He can be reached at [stephenyeboah110@yahoo.com]

Columnist: Yeboah, Stephen

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