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General News of Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Source: www.sunnewsonline.com

Shell appeals judgement stopping gas flaring in Delta community

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Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has filed an appeal challenging the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, which ordered stoppage to flaring of gas in Iwhrekan community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Mr Jonah Gbemre had instituted the suit against (SPDC) on behalf of Iwhrekan community on which Justice J Nwokorie of the Federal High Court, Benin, delivered judgement in favour of the community.

But apparently dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court, the company, in the appeal, is asking the Court of Appeal, Benin, to determine if the lower court had the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

SDPC is also appealing that the evidence relied upon for the judgement by the lower court were not scientifically proven by Mr Gbemre and Iwhrekan community before judgement was given in their favour.

The appeal suit is slated for hearing on Thursday, January 20, 2022.

SPDC) is joined by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as applicants while Mr Jonah Gbemre (for Iwhrekan community) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) are the respondents.

Counsel to the respondents, Prince Chima Williams of Chima Williams & Associates Law Firm, said they were ready to defend the position of the law and ensure that justice was served to the people of the oil-rich community.

Prince Williams told journalists after briefing the community of the latest development that renowned constitutional lawyer and activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has joined the community’s legal team for the battle at the appellate court.

‘On Thursday, January 20, the case of Shell against Jonah Gbemre (for Iwhrekan community) and others will be coming up at the Court of Appeal in Benin City for hearing.

‘We are here to intimate Iwhrekan community of the continuation of the case so that those who want to be in court to hear and know what is going on will have the opportunity to do so

‘In 2005, a Federal High Court in Benin made a pronouncement that the continued flaring of gas in Iwhrekan community by Shell violates the citizens’ rights to life and dignity of the human person, and ordered Shell to stop gas flare immediately.

‘In that judgement, the court said the continued flaring of gas contributes to Nigeria’s contributions to in-house emission that leads to climate change.

‘Shell is arguing that we should have proved our case scientifically ours is to defend the judgement which has been declared in our favour at the appeal level,’ he said.

Iwhrekan is one of the host communities to West Africa’s biggest gas plant, Otorogu Gas Plant.

The originating suit at the Federal High Court had SPDC, NNPC and AGF as first, second and third defendants respectively.

In the judgment, Justice Nwokorie had declared that the ‘actions of the first and second respondents in continuing to flare gas in the course of their oil exploration and production activities in the applicant’s community is a violation of their fundamental rights to life (including healthy environment) and dignity of the human person guaranteed by Section 31) and 34(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999…’

In suit number FHC/B/CS/53/05, the community had sought the court, ‘declaration that the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to life and dignity of the human person provided in Sections 33(1) and 34(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and reinforced by Arts 4, 16 and 24 of the African Charter on Human Procedure Rules (Procedure and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Vol Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 inevitably includes the right to clean poison-free, pollution-free and healthy environment.

‘A declaration that the actions of the first and second respondents in continuing to flare gas in the course of their oil exploration and production activities in the Applicant’s Community is a violation of their fundamental rights to life (including healthy environment) and dignity of the human person guaranteed by Sections 3301) and 34(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and reinforced by Arts 4, 16 and 24 of the African Charter on Human Procedure Rules (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap, A9 Vol I Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

‘A declaration that the failure of the 1 and 2 Respondents to carry out an environmental impact assessment in the applicant’s community concerning the effects of their gas flaring activities is a violation of Section 2(2) of the Environment Impact Assessment Act, Cap E12 Vol 6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and contributed to the violation of the Applicant’s said fundamental rights to life and dignity of the person.

‘An order of perpetual injunction restraining the first and second respondents by themselves or by their agents, servants, contractors of workers or otherwise howsoever from further daring of gas in the applicants said community.’

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