Protest hits Shell Lagos office over plan to divest from Nigeria

-as groups demand immediate restoration of polluted environment

By Samuel Ogunsona

Civil society groups on Tuesday demanded for a cleanup and restoration of all polluted and contaminated areas linked to Shell’s decades’ long oil exploration in Nigeria.

The protest at the head office of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Lagos occurred simultaneously with the Annual General shareholders’ meeting of Shell which took place in London.

The groups Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), at the “Make Big Polluters Pay”action said the industrial oil company must return back the dignity stripped off from the people.

Shell currently plans to divest from Nigeria after over half a century oil exploration in Africa’s most populous country.

At the protest, Gideon Adeyeni, Project Manager (CAPPA), said it is absurd to see oil producing companies declare their annual profits amounting to billions in Naira while local communities continue to pay dearly for agelong environmental devastation extractive activities have caused over several decades.

He said, “Shell is exiting Nigeria, selling its assets to smaller companies that do not have the capacity to take up its liabilities”

Adeyeni continued “While Shell would be declaring profits at its annual general meeting starting today in London, communities continue to pay dearly for the environmental devastation that the extractive activities of companies like Shell and Chevron have caused over the past decades.

He said livelihoods have been destroyed, especially for local communities who depend directly on the environment for their daily survival, while many lives have been lost as a direct consequence of the activities of these companies.

“A company that has wreaked havoc in communities across a region of the country should not be allowed to leave without being held responsible for fixing the mess it has created” he added.

Adeyeni speaking to Journalists at the protest ground said their demand is for the oil companies to “Own Up” and “Clean Up”.

“This is the summary of our demand during our action at Shell’s head office in Marina, Lagos, today. Shell and other big polluters in Nigeria must be made to OWN UP and CLEAN UP, ” he said.

According to him, through this action, the groups hope to put pressure on Shell and the Nigerian government to ensure that the company does not leave without taking responsibility for remediating polluted communities and compensating victims of its atrocious extractivism over the past decades.

However, among other speakers at the protest is, Zikora Ibeh, Research Lead at Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), and CAPPA ‘s Programme Officer on Climate Change, Ogunlade Olamide Martins.

The group listed the following demands;

  1. An independent and comprehensive assessment of the environment of the entire Niger Delta.

2.​An open and comprehensive health audit of the people living in extractive communities across the Niger Delta.

3.​A cleanup, remediation, and restoration of all polluted and contaminated areas linked to Shell’s extractivism.

4.​That Shell and Chevron be held accountable for the destruction of communities in the Niger Delta.

5.​That divestment and/or expansion plans follow due process of decommissioning.

6.​That the Nigerian Government’s environmental and climate change policies be weaned off unfounded corporate language, including false solutions such as Net Zero.

7.​That communities are recognised as major stakeholders that must be afforded expression on matters that concern their safety and survival.

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