By Storm Mbarka
The 2011 Bonga spill victims which have been pursing legal means to actualize their quest to effect compensation to them under the aegis of Oil Spill Initiative Vanguard in a suit number HT -2017 -000383 and HT-2020 -143 Bonga Oil Spill , December 20th, 2011, against Shell Trading and Shipping Company Limited (STATSCO) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO)
have won the second round of the legal battle against SHELL the oil giant in the United Kingdom.
The Oil Spil Victims official message stated that Shell Bonga Field Operations which discharged over 40, 000 barrels of crude oil into the Atlantic ocean terminated the fishing activities of over 170, 000, fisher men and women, while 450 communities between Delta and Bayelsa state were negatively impacted as a result of the pollution.
The Group noted in their assertions that an area in the sea mrasuring over a distance of 185km along the Nigeria Coastal line was deserted by fishermen dew to the unbearable effect of the pollution, even as
farm lands and vegetation were contaminated across board in the affected area in Delta and Bayelsa state.
Mr Harrison Jalla the Executive Director of Oil Spill Victims Initiative Vanguard (OSPIVV) who disclosed this information in a press conference held at Tebulous Hotel Ekpan Warri Delta State on wednesday 9th December 2020 ,pointed our that OSPIVV is an NGO dedicated to the pursuit of the rights of victims and communities affected by oil spill hazards , gas flaring, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the extractive industries in Nigeria.
Harrison Jalla the Group Executive during the media interactive session told newsmen that the battle for OSPIVV to ensure that the victims are compensated has been on since 21st of September 2017, when the Group took the legal action Johnson and Steller Solicitors.
He however hinted for reasons not disclosed that the former lawyers Johnson and Steller Solicitors are now replaced by Rosenblatt Limited , a reputable oil and law firm based in Saint Andrew East Central London.
The Group Executive while disclosing that the journey to final destination for the victim’s dream of compensation is yet to be realised legally he , explained : ” Having scaled the first and second hurdles, were judgement has been delivered in favour of OSPIVV, we still have one more protective claim pending in suit No HT -2020 -000143 filed on the 23rd of April 2020 .
However, he expressed optimism that the next phase of legal battle will still turn out to be positive in favour of OSPIVV just like the first two instances, because the Group have iron cast alibis which the judges of the earlier courts relied on to deliver judgement in favour of the spill victims
According to Mr Jalla the OSPIVV Executive, the SHELL Group threw everything in the ring to contest the jurisdiction of the English Court to entertain the matter since 2017 just to ensure that they evade payment to the spill victims and the affected communities.
He addred : ” God being a Man of justice prevailed as the judgement handed down by the Hon. Justice Stuart Smith on the 2nd of march 2020 in the English court assumed jurisdiction and ruled in favour of OSPIVV , lndividuals and Community Claimants in the matter.”
Speaking further he remarked: ” l am glad to inform you that we are moving closer to end of the tunnel with a silver lining , our case has since been heard on the 19th of November 2020 in a case management session by both parties under a new Judge , Hon.Justice Mrs, O’ FARRELL which outlined how the matter will progress in the main trial.
The Group Executive while making his submition stressed that the on going action is to compell the Shell Group and its subsidiaries to do the clean up , rectification, Restoration , compensation and payment of damages occasioned by the negative impact of December 20th 2011 spill.