.Alerts Nigeria’s incoming govt
‘By exercising appropriate oversight of Shell’s sale, Nigeria’s incoming administration has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its determination to uphold and protect the human rights of its citizens, including their rights to an adequate standard of living, clean water, and health’
By Valentine Amanze
Human rights group, Amnesty International, has advised Nigeria’s incoming government to ensure that Shell’s planned sale of its operations in the Niger Delta, does not lead to a further deterioration in human rights in a region blighted by decades of oil pollution.
The group, which documented grievous and enduring human rights abuses resulting from oil contamination in the area, where Shell operated since the 1950s, gave the advice in a statement issued on Wednesday May 25, 2023.
It also alleged that the proposed sale would deny people already harmed access to adequate remedy, and potentially expose many more to future abuses.
Amnesty International, in a report on Wednesday titled, “Tainted Sale?”, recommended a series of safeguards and actions to help protect the rights of people potentially affected by Shell’s planned disposal of its onshore oil interests in the Niger Delta, reportedly for about $3 billion.
Through its Head of Business and Human Rights, Mark Dummett, the group lamented the plight of Niger Delta indigenes and residents.
It stated: “For decades spills have damaged the health and livelihoods of many of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants.
Shell should not be allowed to wash its hands of the problems and leave.
“Shell has earned billions of dollars from this business and it must make sure that its withdrawal does not have negative human rights and environmental consequences.
“By exercising appropriate oversight of Shell’s sale, Nigeria’s incoming administration has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its determination to uphold and protect the human rights of its citizens, including their rights to an adequate standard of living, clean water, and health. We are also calling for effective remedy for people whose rights have long been abused.
“We urge the new government, under Bola Tinubu, to ensure Shell’s sale does not end or limit the company’s liabilities. As a condition of sale, it should require Shell to provide a full assessment of all existing pollution in the delta, ensure it has provided satisfactory remediation for any damage, and that local inhabitants’ concerns about the sale process are fully appraised and addressed.
“The government should consider requiring Shell to act as a guarantor to ensure any purchaser is capable of making good and remediating damage caused by any future spills and that any buyer is committed to transparency, environmental compliance, consultations with communities, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
“Of course, rather than finding buyers and wringing the last drops of oil from a region so long blighted by the industry, the better option would be remedying the harms caused, and phasing out production.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that without accelerating the phasing out of fossil fuels worldwide, global temperatures will rise by more than an agreed limit of 1.5C versus pre-industrial levels. After decades of exploitation, retiring production in the Niger Delta would be a step in the right direction.”
A long record of environmental damage and abuses
Recall that for more than 20 years Amnesty International and partner organizations had been conducting research in the Niger Delta.
It discovered that Shell’s operations had come at the cost of the human rights of people living there.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited – Joint Venture (SPDC JV) is one of Nigeria’s largest oil producers.
Shell was the majority owner of this business for many years, but its main shareholder is now the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which holds 55%. The rest is owned by subsidiaries of international oil companies. Shell, through its wholly-owned subsidiary the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited owns 30%, the French company Total has 10%, and the Italian company Eni 5%.