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THE Nigerian Maritime  Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the National Oil Spill  Response and Emergency Agency, NOSREA, have fined Shell Nigeria  Exploration and production Company, SNEPCO, $11.5billion, about N1.84  trillion over the Bonga spill incident of 2011.
Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, the NIMASA’s Director General made the  disclosure while speaking at a Public Hearing organised by the House of  Representative Committee on Environment, saying that the maritime agency  calculated a total of $6.5billion as compensation to be paid to the  communities affected by the spill as damages.
Also speaking, Sir Peter Idabo, the Director General of NOSREA, said  that his agency has imposed a $5bn fine on SNEPCO as a result of the  spill.
The NIMASA helmsman diclosed that Shell tried to frustrate the  agency’s moves to get to the site of the spill adding that the agency  provided some stop-gap measure by providing relief material to some of  the spill impacted communities.
He criticized Shell and its allies over their non-chalant attitude  towards spill incidents management in the Niger Delta area and called  for an immediate stop to this.
“The kind of impunity Shell and its allies have demonstrated so far  in the Niger Delta area in the past must stop if the future of the  people of Nigeria and the environment are to be protected.
“And in other climes when spills like this occur, the first thing is  remediation, attention to the affected communities and finding ways of  reducing the sufferings of the people and restoring the eco-system but  Shell fell short of all these criteria and of course it is sad that it  is only in Nigeria that we can witness this degree of impunity.
“In NIMASA, we see this as a serious infraction on our laws; the  damage done to the communities and the eco-system can be seen as  genocide.
“When a similar spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell was alive  to its responsibilities, they were made to pay compensation to the  affected communities but today in Nigeria, any spill that occur, a claim  of sabotage or third party claims are the order of the day.
“We made presentations before this honourable Committee and asked  SNEPCO to pay compensation, ours is not an administrative fee, but  compensation to the communities totalling $6.5billion.
“The response from Shell was evasive and does not suggest that it is a  company that is alive to its responsibilities, it believes that the  culture of impunity can continue to go on because it plays with our  legal system.
“May we use this opportunity to correct the wrong that has been done  to the Nigerian environment because of the callousness of the this  company and we stand by our argument that compensation must be paid to  the communities.
“What we expect Shell to do is to come to the negotiating table and  discuss with the affected communities on the means of payment so that  the communities can get back their natural eco-system.
In her response, Mrs Linda Ekwunife, Chairman of the Committee  expressed anger at the management of Shell for coming to the meeting  without proper preparation.
She said Shell has succeeded in dragging the committee back, adding  that the Committee will still move ahead despite SNEPCO’s delay tactics.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Managing Director of SNEPCO, Mr.  Chike Onyejekwe said he could not discuss the matter as some of the  communities have taken Shell to court over incident.

Toju Vincent

Source: Radio Biafra.

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