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Amnesty Warns of Rights Violation as Shell Plans Sale of Niger Delta Business

A human rights organization, Amnesty International, has urged the Federal Government to ensure that Shell’s planned sale of its operations in the Niger Delta does not lead to a further deterioration in human rights in the region blighted by decades of oil pollution.

This was as the organization said it has documented grievous and enduring human rights abuses resulting from oil contamination in the area, where Shell has operated since the 1950s.

Amnesty also expressed concern that the proposed sale will deny people already harmed access to adequate remedy, and potentially expose many more to future abuses.

A new report issued today, Tainted Sale?, recommends a series of safeguards and actions to help protect the rights of people potentially affected by Shell’s planned disposal of its onshore oil interests in the Niger Delta, reportedly for about US$3 billion.

Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights, said: “For decades spills have damaged the health and livelihoods of many of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants. Shell should not be allowed to wash its hands of the problems and leave. Shell has earned billions of dollars from this business and it must make sure that its withdrawal does not have negative human rights and environmental consequences.

“By exercising appropriate oversight of Shell’s sale, Nigeria’s incoming administration has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its determination to uphold and protect the human rights of its citizens, including their rights to an adequate standard of living, clean water, and health. We are also calling for effective remedy for people whose rights have long been abused.

“We urge the new government, under President Bola Tinubu, to ensure Shell’s sale does not end or limit the company’s liabilities. As a condition of sale, it should require Shell to provide a full assessment of all existing pollution in the delta, ensure it has provided satisfactory remediation for any damage, and that local inhabitants’ concerns about the sale process are fully appraised and addressed.

“The government should consider requiring Shell to act as a guarantor to ensure any purchaser is capable of making good and remediating damage caused by any future spills and that any buyer is committed to transparency, environmental compliance, consultations with communities, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Of course, rather than finding buyers and wringing the last drops of oil from a region so long blighted by the industry, the better option would be remedying the harms caused, and phasing out production.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that without accelerating the phasing out of fossil fuels worldwide, global temperatures will rise by more than an agreed limit of 1.5C versus pre-industrial levels. After decades of exploitation, retiring production in the Niger Delta would be a step in the right direction.”

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