Tens of thousands of Nigerian fishermen and farmers are suing multinational oil giant Shell in two new lawsuits in a British court alleging decades of uncleaned oil spills have destroyed their lives.
Law firm Leigh Day is representing them following a landmark ruling last year that won an unprecedented 83.5 million US dollars (£60 million) in damages from Shell. Shell originally offered a
settlement of $50,000 dollars (£36,000).
In a statement, Shell blamed sabotage and oil theft for the pollution and said it would challenge the jurisdiction of London’s Technology and Construction Court.
Nigeria’s oil-rich southern Niger Delta suffers hundreds of spills every year.
Typically, victims spend years battling in Nigeria’s court system only to come away with a small amount, so lawyers took the battle to Shell’s London headquarters.
Shell said it had halted oil production in 1993 in Ogoniland, the area where the two communities are located in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern Niger Delta.
It said: “Asking the English court to intervene… is a direct challenge to the internal political acts and decisions of the Nigerian state.”