TWO years after the Ogoni communities secured a $15 million (about N2.250 billion) from a fine imposed on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by a United Kingdom court, over the Ogoni nine, the indigenes of the oil communities are yet to “lick from the milk.”
Information available to The Guardian revealed that $10 million (N1.5 billion) of the sum was immediately paid to the plaintiff, while it was agreed to put the balance of $5 million (N750 million) in Ogoni investment fund, the Kisis Trust Fund. Since then, the money has been trapped in an account in the nited States.
However, it was alleged that the trustees and some Ogoni people exercise control over the trust fund and deny access to the fund to meet the goal for its establishment.
Irked by the scenario, stakeholders in the community have however begun to strategise for the application of the recent proposed E210m award for Bodo community against Shell.
A report made available to The Guardian by a community leader, Eddie Wikina on Ogoni oil and gas environmental issues, said the last case “calls for careful handling of the 210 million euros to prevent it from going the way of the U.S Shell award, and from being a curse.”
According to him, there is need to carefully consider, who will directly receive the 210 million euros when it is eventually paid by Shell.
He therefore urged that “as they put pressure on Shell and await the payment, they (the community) should be considering establishment of a Trust Fund to be managed by an experienced fund manager of international repute. The money should be made to benefit the community through sustainable investment that will touch and improve lives and not paid to individuals.”
Besides, the statement noted that the complexity associated with cleaning of polluted sites should not be compromised, urging that it should be done in line with international best practices.
“The process will demand rigorous tendering leading to a selection of a competent contractor. Nigeria does not have the expertise so it will be an international exercise that will seek both technical and commercial bids.
The UNEP report has indicated that the entire cleaning process might take up to two or three years, “if good job is to be done.’ He said anything short of this would be suspected as an attempt to rush a shoddy exercise.
It was however, noted that the pipelines that carry crude through Ogoni land have been installed since the 1970s and are well over 40 years old. While, the normal design life of pipeline system by international standard is about 25 years. It is therefore, not surprising that these pipelines have developed low structural integrity from corrosion and normal wear of parts.
He, therefore, demanded for decommissioning and replacement of the pipelines. Also, he said the best practices in regular inspection of pipelines using computer-based tools and perfect implementation of the Post Impact Assessments, should be ensured, to forestall further occurrence.
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