A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited to pay N10bn to victims of a January 12, 1998 oil spillage which occurred when a 24 inches pipeline belonging to the company burst, releasing its content into the marine environment.
About 40,000 barrels of Qua Iboe light crude had spilled into the environment when the 25-year-old pipeline burst in Akwa Ibom State.
The oil spillage had spread over about 850km of Nigeria’s coastline and up to Republic of Benin.
A suit marked FHC/L/CS/274/2002 had been filed against Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited by one Chief M.A. Ajanaku and others, who sued on behalf of themselves and the fishing communities and cooperatives of Lagos.
The plaintiffs had claimed that their tools of trade and occupational locations and environment were destroyed by the Idoho oil spillage.
They had urged the court to order Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited to commence post-impact remediation programmes in respect of their land and waters polluted by the Idoho oil spill and do all such acts and things to clean up their environment and restore it to its original state.
They also urged the court to order the oil company to pay them N8.4bn as special damages with an annual interest of 10 per cent from January 26, 1998 until till the final liquidation of the award.
They also urged the court to order the oil company to pay them N1.4bn as general damages for the infraction of their constitutional and statutory rights and interest on the judgement sum at the rate of 10% from the date of judgement until full payment.
In a judgement on Wednesday, 14 years after the suit was filed, Justice Ibrahim Buba affirmed that the plaintiffs’ right to life and right to live in an environment favourable to their socioeconomic development as guaranteed under Section 33 of the 1999 constitution and Articles 22 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, had been violated on account of the oil spillage.
The judge awarded N10bn against Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited in favour of the plaintiffs