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Niger Delta Farmers to get Justice Over Oil Spillage

Gov Wike, Rivers State

This is the first time individual farmers who have had their sources of livelihood taken away by the environmental destruction in the Niger Delta hope to get justice.

It is being received with excitement among environmental activists, as it may open a floodgate of more litigation against Shell and other corporations involved in oil exploration in the region.

Kentebbe Ebiarido, who represents some of the farmers, said people in the area had been “cheated environmentally and economically” and that no matter how much the multinationals had misbehaved in the past, the communities now have hope.

For many years, Shell has been accused of being responsible for the contamination of the region through leaks from oil exploration – allegations it has always denied.

There have been settlements in the past. But in those instances – like in 2005 when Shell agreed to an $84m (£60m) deal for fishermen in the Bodo community – thousands of residents of the Niger Delta were lumped together. When such settlements eventually got to each of them, it did not amount to much.

But this time, even though no-one knows what the compensation will be, there is little doubt that it will different to before.