The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has alleged that Shell may be attempting to thwart the recommended cleanup of Ogoniland through a deal with a local company called Belema Oil. But the oil giant has denied the allegation, saying that, while fully committed to the Ogoniland cleanup, it has no dealings Belema Oil.
Shell is said to have sold its oil blocks in Ogoniland to Belema Oil, and drilling is set to commence as the company has reached agreement with some community chiefs who are being used to collate signatures endorsing the sale of the oil in Ogoniland.
The ERA/FoEN also alleged that some top Shell officials are believed to have strong links with the company.
Community sources also revealed that that some Ogoni community leaders were recently flown to Lagos to hold secret meetings on the oil block sale and may have been compromised after which they received documents with which to collect signatures from the Ogoni people as consent to the sale of Ogoni Oil.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Uyi Ojo, said: “This is another deception coming from the stable of Shell. This divisive experiment is a serious affront on the peaceful Ogoni struggle for environmental justice and targeted at causing confusion so as to create a window of escape for Shell to evade its responsibilities in the clean-up of Ogoniland. We totally oppose this.
“Belema Oil is Shell’s new ploy to betray the Ogoni cause. It is intended to stymie the communities’ collective bargaining power. We align with Movement for Solidarity for the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and other Ogoni groups that believe that only an Ogoni Congress can speak for the people who are yet to fully recover from the years of untold hardship visited on them by Shell and the federal government of Nigeria.”
Ojo said that Ogoni oil must remain underground as a global metaphor for leaving the oil in the soil due to its environmental and social destruction, toll on human life, and as a response to climate change.
The ERA/FoEN boss asked that Shell be stopped from evading the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report and urged to commence immediate clean up and remediation of the Niger Delta by the establishment of $100 billion dollars restoration fund.
“Shell must be held accountable for the decades of its environmental human rights abuses in Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta. Aside halting this backdoor deal, officials of the company said to have a stake in Belema Oil must also be investigated to determine how much they have done to frustrate the implementation of the UNEP report through their Shell-run oil company that seeks to put potential profit first before people and the environment,” Ojo insisted.
But an official of Shell who doesn’t want his name mentioned said: “The identity of beneficiaries of Shell’s sold oil blocks is no secret, and it is obvious that Belema Oil is not one of them. We don’t know where ERA/FoEN got its views from. We have no dealings with any Belema Oil. And it should be noted here that Shell is and will always be committed to the cleanup of Ogoniland.”