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Lawyers for Nigerian villagers welcome clean up efforts in Niger Delta

Lawyers who have fought for the clean up of oil spills in Nigeria welcome the beginning of three year project to renew part of Niger Delta

9 November 2017

Lawyers who represented Nigerian villagers in their successful legal challenge against the oil firm Shell in 2014 have welcomed news that the area is finally undergoing a clean-up almost ten years after two huge oil spills decimated their community waterways in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta.

According to Reuters, who had visited the region, high pressure hoses are being used to begin cleaning up the crude oil that has blighted the creeks and mangrove swamps in Bodo, a former Nigerian fishing village.

Leigh Day, has represented the villagers in their challenge against Shell for the two oil spills since 2011. They secured compensation of £55 million in 2015 and they have been consistently pushing for clean-up of the Bodo Community since they were first instructed.

Recently they have worked hard with the Community to ensure that Shell has no excuse to delay clean up any further.

Leigh Day agreed to have a separate case which seeks to force Shell to clean-up the area ‘stayed’ to give the Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI), funded by Shell, a chance to clean-up the area.

Unlike previous initiatives, the BMI scheme is backed by the local community and will involve teams of scientists who will take samples of water, mud and soil in each area to measure progress and determine the best cleaning method. Four hundred workers are involved in cleaning up the region before replanting the area.

Inemo Samiama, chairman of the Bodo Mediation Initiative told Reuters: “

The Niger Delta is at a crossroads. We have a lot of polluted sites. We need something that we can refer to, some shining example.”

Daniel Leader a partner in the international department at Leigh Day said:

“We are very pleased that the work of the BMI has started although we recognise that it is only early days and we will be monitoring the process very closely to ensure Shell cleans up to international standards. It should not be the case that this environmental devastation continues to blight the lives of innocent people for years before clean-up commences. It is equally egregious that Shell should be forced through the threat of legal action to clean up their spills, in this way. We will continue to fight for a number of communities who have been affected in the way that Bodo has suffered for many years.”

Leigh Day are currently representing the Bille and Ogale communities in their legal challenges against Shell.

King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi of the Ogale Community told Reuters: “The only place you can get legal success is the international courts.”

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