Dutch Court Orders Shell To Pay Nigerian Farmers Over Oil Spills

After 13 years of legal wrangling, an appeals court will rule on demands by Nigerian farmers for Anglo-Dutch giant Shell to clean up devastating oil spills in the Niger Delta and pay compensation
(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP)

 

A Dutch court on Friday ordered Shell to pay compensation in a long-running case brought by four Nigerian farmers who accuse the oil giant of causing widespread pollution.

After 13 years of legal wrangling, an appeals court in The Hague ruled that Shell’s Nigerian branch must pay out for oil spills on land in two villages.

It also held the Anglo-Dutch parent company Royal Dutch Shell liable for installing new pipeline equipment to prevent further devastating spills in the Niger Delta region.

The case, backed by the Netherlands arm of environment group Friends of the Earth, has dragged on so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed in 2008.

“The court ruled that Shell Nigeria is liable for the damage caused by the spills. Shell Nigeria is sentenced to compensate farmers for damages,” judge Sierd Schaafsma said.

 

The oil pollution lawsuit has been on for about 13 years, two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed.

 

The amount of damages would be determined later, the court said. It did not specify how many of the four farmers would receive compensation.

The farmers first sued Shell in 2008 over pollution in their villages Goi, Oruma and Ikot Ada Udo, in southeastern Nigeria.

A lower court in the Netherlands found in 2013 that Shell should pay compensation for one leak but that Shell’s parent company could not be held liable in a Dutch court for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary.

But in 2015 the Hague appeals court ruled that Dutch courts did indeed have jurisdiction in the case.

 

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on October 11, 2012, (L/R): four Nigerian farmers, Friday Alfred Akpan-Ikot Ada Udo and Eric Dooh, Nini Okey Uche of the Nigerian Embassy, lawyer Prince Chima Williams and farmers Chief Fidelis A. Oguru-Oruma and Alali Efanga pose at the law courts in The Hague.  (Photo by ROBIN UTRECHT / ANP / AFP)

 

Environmental damage

On Friday, the court ruled that Shell Nigeria must pay compensation for the leaks at Goi and Oruma.

“In the Uruma cases, Shell Nigeria and… Royal Dutch Shell are ordered to equip the pipeline with a leak detection system so that environmental damage can be limited in the future,” the court said.

Shell Nigeria should have shut down oil supplies on the day of the spill in the cases in Goi, it said.

The court said it needed more time to resolve the case of Ikot Ada Udo, saying that the leak was due to sabotage but it was not clear whether Shell could still be held liable for it, and for cleaning up.

“For the inhabitants of the Niger Delta it is crucial that their land is cleaned up and their lost crops and livelihoods are compensated by the guilty party: Shell,” Donald Pols of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said in a statement ahead of the case.

Shell has always blamed all of the spills on sabotage and said it has cleaned up with due care where pollution has occurred.

At a hearing last year lawyers for the farmers showed gushing and burning oil spills as well as villagers dragging their hands through water sources, their hands streaked with the substance afterward.

Nigeria was the world’s ninth-largest oil producer in 2018, pumping out volumes valued at some $43.6 billion (37 billion euros), or 3.8 percent of total global production.

In a separate case in the Netherlands, the widows of four Nigerian activists executed by the military regime in the 1990s have accused Shell of complicity in their deaths.

Shell also faces a landmark legal bid to force it to meet emissions targets in the Paris climate accords, brought by several environmental groups in the Netherlands led by Friends of the Earth in 2019.

No Champions As Dutch League Becomes First In Europe To End Season

Ajax’ Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana (3rdR) and teammates react after valencia scored the opener during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia CF at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on December 10, 2019.
Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

The Dutch football federation (KNVB) called an end to the 2019-20 season on Friday, as the Eredivisie became the first top European league called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

No team will be declared champions after Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were left level on points at the top of the table with nine games still to play.

“Unfortunately, given the measures (banning large-scale gatherings) taken by the government, it became impossible to finish the 2019-2020 season,” the KNVB said in a statement.

“Public health always comes first. This is not just a football problem given what the coronavirus is doing to society. Nonetheless, the professional football committee is aware that the decisions today are going to cause great disappointment for some,” it added.

Leaders Ajax, above AZ on goal difference, will qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League group stage, according to the KNVB, which will await a definitive verdict from UEFA on May 25.

AZ will likely enter the competition’s qualifying rounds, with Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Willem II set to compete in the Europa League based on the final standings.

The KNVB announced its intention to scrap the season on Tuesday following the Dutch government’s decision to extend a ban on mass gatherings until September 1.

Matches behind closed doors were said not to be an option as they are considered events which require a permit and police presence.

The final decision was made following a meeting with the clubs on Friday. Next season will begin with the same 18 teams that started the aborted Eredivisie campaign.

“There will be no relegation, nor promotion,” said the KNVB, which is expected to face legal action from SC Cambuur and De Graafschap — the top two clubs in the second division.

The Belgian Pro League is expected to take a similar decision to that of their neighbours next week, with Club Brugge to be awarded the title.

Football in Europe ground to a standstill in mid-March following the spread of the virus across the continent. However, Germany is preparing to resume the Bundesliga on May 9 behind closed doors, if the government gives the green light.

Players in France could begin to return to training starting May 11, if lockdown restrictions are eased, while La Liga is also planning for clubs to resume training early next month.

No potential restart dates have yet been announced for leagues in Italy or England.

Dutch Police Begin Manhunt For Suspect After Three Stabbed In The Hague

Forensic workers investigate at the Grote Marktstraat, one of the main shopping streets in the centre of the Dutch city of The Hague after several people were wounded in a stabbing incident on November 29, 2019. 
Sem VAN DER WAL / ANP / AFP

 

Dutch police kept up a huge manhunt on Saturday for an assailant who stabbed three youths in The Hague’s main shopping area.

Officials said they were keeping an open mind about the motive for the attack, which came as shoppers hunted bargains on Black Friday.

The incident caused panic in The Hague as it happened just hours after two people were stabbed to death in London allegedly by an ex-prisoner convicted of terrorism offences.

The male attacker ran off after the stabbings at a department store in the city centre’s Grote Marktstraat, The Hague’s main shopping area.

“We haven’t arrested a suspect yet. So we are currently very busy trying the find the suspect,” police spokeswoman Marije Kuiper told AFP.

“It’s a little too early to speculate about that kind of thing,” she said when asked about a possible terrorist motive, adding that investigators were still looking at several possible scenarios.

READ ALSO: Remains Of UK Truck Victims Arrive In Vietnam

Police forensics officers were seen examining a knife found at the scene overnight.

The victims were a 13-year-old boy from The Hague, a girl of 15 from Alphen aan den Rijn and a 15-year-old girl from Leiderdorp, the ANP news agency said, quoting police. They did not know each other, police said.

They were all allowed to go home from hospital overnight.

Images on social media showed shoppers running in panic away from the scene, on a nighttime retail street lit by Christmas fairy lights.

‘Screaming And Running Away’

Two teenage girls came running into the store after being stabbed, broadcaster NOS quoted witnesses as saying.

“I saw two girls screaming and running away. A man fled. He jumped very athletically over benches to getaway. He looked like a cheetah,” one witness told NOS.

“People were trying to get away, but that didn’t work. I was shocked.”

Police helicopters flew overhead and several emergency vehicles were on site, the correspondent said.

Police initially gave a description of a man they were looking for aged between 40 and 50 but later withdrew it, saying they were still investigating.

The stabbing took place not far from parliament, which is the seat of government for the Netherlands and home to many international organisations and courts.

In Britain, two members of the public were killed in a stabbing on London Bridge in the heart of the capital on Friday.

The Netherlands has seen a series of terror attacks and plots, although not so far on the scale of those in other European countries.

In March four people were killed when a Turkish-born man opened fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht.

In August 2018 an Afghan man stabbed and seriously wounded two American tourists at Amsterdam’s central station, saying he wanted to “protect the Prophet, Mohammed”.

He was jailed for 26 years in October this year.

Earlier this month a Pakistani man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a plot to kill far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

AFP

Three Wounded In The Hague Stabbing Attack

Police arrive at the Grote Marktstraat, one of the main shopping streets in the centre of the Dutch city of The Hague after several people were wounded in a stabbing incident on November 29, 2019. 
Sem VAN DER WAL / ANP / AFP

 

Three people were wounded in a stabbing in one of the main shopping streets in the centre of the Dutch city of The Hague on Friday night, police said.

“Stabbing incident with several wounded at the Grote Marktstraat in The Hague. Emergency services are on site,” the city’s police said on Twitter.

Police later said that three people were wounded in the incident, which came as European cities were on alert after a suspected terror stabbing in London killed two people.

Dutch news agency ANP quoted sources as saying there was “no talk of a terror motive”, but there was no immediate confirmation.

Members of the public gathered behind a police cordon on the street, where shoppers had earlier been hunting Black Friday bargains, an AFP correspondent said.

READ ALSO: Two Killed In London Stabbing Terror Attack

Police helicopters flew over the scene and several emergency vehicles were on site, the correspondent said.

Police said they were looking for a “slightly dark-skinned man” aged between 40 and 50 wearing a black top, scarf and grey jogging bottoms.

The stabbing was also not far from parliament in The Hague, which is the seat of government for the Netherlands and home to many international organisations.

The incident came hours after a terror-related stabbing on London Bridge in the British capital killed two members of the public. The suspected attacker was shot dead.

AFP

Congolese ‘Terminator’ Faces War Crimes Judgment

 

The International Criminal Court is on Monday to pass judgment on Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, dubbed the “Terminator” for allegedly masterminding massacres and using children in his rebel army.

Ntaganda, 45, is accused of overseeing the slaughter of civilians by his soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.

Prosecutors gave horrific details of victims including some who were disembowelled and had their throats slit, as part of the evidence during his three-year trial in The Hague.

The ICC says it will announce at 0800 GMT “whether it finds the accused innocent or guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”

The soft-spoken Ntaganda — known for his pencil moustache and a penchant for fine dining — told judges during his trial that he was “soldier not a criminal” and that the “Terminator” nickname did not apply to him.

Rwandan-born Ntaganda faces 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal conflict that wracked the northeastern region.

Prosecutors portrayed him as the ruthless leader of ethnic Tutsi revolts amid the wars that wracked the Democratic Republic of Congo after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since the violence erupted in the region in 1999 according to rights groups, as militias battle each other for control of scarce mineral resources.

High profile setbacks

Prosecutors said Ntaganda was central to the planning and operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots rebels and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

The FPLC killed at least 800 people as it fought rival militias in Ituri, prosecutors said.

Formerly a Congolese army general, Ntaganda then became a founding member of the M23 rebel group, which was eventually defeated by Congolese government forces in 2013.

The first-ever suspect to voluntarily surrender to the ICC, he walked into the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali in 2013 and asked to be sent to the court, based in the Netherlands.

Ntaganda is one of five Congolese warlords brought before the ICC, which was set up in 2002 as an independent international body to prosecute those accused of the world’s worst crimes.

Ntaganda’s former FPLC commander Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2012.

But it has suffered several setbacks over recent years with some of its most high-profile suspects walking free, while it has also been criticised for mainly trying African suspects so far.

In a separate hearing on Monday, judges are to determine whether there is enough evidence for a Malian jihadist to face trial for demolishing Timbuktu’s fabled shrines, as well as for rape, torture and sex slavery.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was captured and transferred to the court last year.

AFP

President Buhari To Visit Netherlands

Buhari’s Medical Trips ‘Expose Our Country To Ridicule’ – Falana
President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Sunday, July 15, depart Nigeria for the Netherland.

The President will be away to participate in activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), at The Hague.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Saturday, said President Buhari is the only world leader invited to deliver a keynote address at the event which commemorates the anniversary at Courtroom 1 of the ICC’s Headquarters at The Hague.

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“In buttressing Nigeria’s commitment as a member of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the President, as the current anti-corruption champion for the African Union, will use the global platform to reaffirm Nigeria’s support to the fundamental values of the Rome Statute and to the ideals of the ICC.

He will also highlight his administration’s campaign against corruption in Nigeria,” the statement read in part.

After the event at the Courtroom, President Buhari is expected to have a bilateral meeting with the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda and attend a dinner to be hosted by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, the President of the ICC, who is a Nigerian.

During his visit to The Hague, President Buhari is also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to discuss bilateral issues such as migration, peace and security, and economic cooperation.

The President and his delegation will also have a roundtable with some Dutch Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of companies based in Nigeria.

President Buhari will also tour the Port of Rotterdam and Shell refinery Pernis, Hoogvliet to later sign a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral consultations with the Netherlands government.

Delegates including Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami are set to visit the Netherlands alongside President Buhari.

Others are the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar; the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru; and the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman.

International Court To Hear Kenya-Somalia Border Dispute

International_Court_of_Justice, Kenya-Somalia, Border DisputeThe International Court of Justice is set to hear a long-running maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia at The Hague.

Kenya’s Attorney-General, Githu Muigai, says he would be leading a high-powered delegation to the ICJ to present Kenya’s case.

In a statement, his department accused Somalia of going back on an agreement reached in 2009 to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

The disputed ocean territory stretches for more than 100,000 sq km.

The dispute has kept investors away because of a lack of legal clarity over who owns potential off-shore oil and gas reserves.

Somalia wants the maritime border to continue along the line of the land border to the south-east, while Kenya wants the sea border to go in a straight line east.

In its application to the court, Somalia, which filed the case in 2014, said the two countries “disagree about the location of the maritime boundary,” according to the tribunal, and that diplomatic negotiations “have failed to resolve this disagreement.”

Somalia has requested that the court “determine the precise geographical coordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.”

The hearings are set for Sept. 19-23.

Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo Denies War Crimes

Ivory CoastFormer President Laurent Gbagbo has denied the charges relating to Ivory Coast’s civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

Mr Gbagbo made the disclaimer on Thursday when he appeared at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the opening of his war crimes trial.

Gbagbo is the first former head of state to stand trial at the court in The Hague, and is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, accused Mr Gbagbo of orchestrating a ‘campaign of violence’.

She said that the trial was aimed to ‘uncover the truth’ as both Mr Gbagbo and his co-accused, former militia leader, Charles Ble Goude, said they were innocent.

The former President allegedly sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential poll.

At least 3,000 people were reportedly killed in the civil conflict that ensued.

Execution Denies Individuals Second Chance If New Evidence Emerges

Charles Adeogun-Philips Indonesia executionAn international prosecutor with The Hague says the “execution denies a criminal a second chance if new forensic evidence shows the individual was innocent”.

Giving his opinion on Friday about the execution of eight persons in Indonesia for drug trafficking, Mr Charles Adeogun-Philips told Channels Television that the grouse of the international community over the execution was based on the expectations that the Indonesian leader should have employed the prerogative of pardon, which he did not explore.

A Philippine woman was granted a stay of execution in the last minute, after new evidence emerged, showing her involvement was framed.

Mr Adeogun-Philips pointed out that if she had been executed before the emergence of new evidence, she would not have had a second chance, stressing the need for the law on execution of criminals to be revisited.

The execution of the eight had drawn condemnations, and the international prosecutor said the international community was at liberty to condemn acts that they consider contrary to international law.

“The Principles behind sentencing an offender of a crime is to Punish the offender, serve as some deterrent to stop people from committing the similar crime, to protect the public and to rehabilitate the offender.

“A major part of the purpose of punishment is to be able to rehabilitate. And in this case, then that defeats the argument as to whether or not having been born again or having been radicalised or whatever they have done in the prison.

“There is the last window for the Indonesian leader to pardon.

“The argument is that once a person has been executed, there is no second chance should a forensic evidence indicate that there is something else,” he said.

However, the international prosecutor stressed that the decision was taken because Indonesia needed to send a message that drug trafficking would be discouraged at the highest level.

“Thirty-three Indonesians apparently die daily from the use of drugs.

“Executions are allowed under their laws.

“It is considered barbaric internationally to conduct executions, but once you step into Indonesia it is very clear that execution is the penalty for drugs trafficking,” he said.

About 58 countries still practice the death penalty and the international community is pushing for the countries to sign on to international laws. But the right lies with the country whether or not to sign on to international laws.

He said that the execution case was carried out based on the domestic laws of the country because Indonesia had not signed on to international law about drug trafficking.

Jonathan’s Vatican Visit Important To Nigeria – Ambassador Okeke

Goodluck Jonathan waveNigeria’s ambassador to the Holy See, Dr Francis Okeke, has said that the President’s scheduled visit to the Vatican is important to the nation.

In an interview with Channels Television, Dr Okeke disclosed that all was set for President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the Holy See otherwise known as the Vatican City.

He also mentioned that apart from the meeting with the Pope, the visit is an attempt to reestablish contact with the Holy See authorities because they have an important part to play in Nigeria’s affairs.

He recalled that the Christian religion brought education to Nigeria over one hundred years ago, and the Holy See plays an important part with other Christian religions in supporting education in Nigeria.

“Besides, the President would like to take this opportunity to do a pilgrimage for himself and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he said.

Also, in a statement signed by the President’s aide on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the Presidency on Wednesday disclosed its plans to embark on a 6-day working tour which would take President Jonathan to the 2014 Global Nuclear Security Summit which opens at The Hague in Holland, on Monday, March 24, 2014.

The statement read, “The President, accompanied by the First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan will leave Abuja for Windhoek early on Thursday for a two-day state visit to Namibia in the course of which he will participate in a business forum aimed at boosting trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Namibia.

“President Jonathan will also attend the celebration of Namibia’s 24th Independence Anniversary as a Special Guest of Honour on Friday before departing for Rome and the Vatican for talks on Saturday, March 22, 2014 with Pope Francis and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.”.

FG Secures 11 Boko Haram Convictions

The Federal Government has announced that 11 Boko Haram insurgents have been convicted in the last one year.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke said this at the 12th session of the Assembly of State Parties, World Forum Theatre, The Hague.

He said that the Federal Government was working on a compensation and rehabilitation scheme for victims of Boko Haram attacks in line with the recommendation of the presidential committee, which recently submitted its report.

Mr. Adoke added that the preliminary findings by the prosecutor and the president of the International Criminal Court had galvanized support for the government’s efforts to address security challenges associated with Boko Haram.

Attacks by the Boko Haram sect have been most devastating in Northern Nigeria with the State of Emergency recently extended in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

ICC-Charged Kenyatta Expected To Join Somalia Meeting In London

Kenya’s newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces international charges of crimes against humanity, is expected to attend a Somalia conference next week in London at the invitation of the British government, sources said on Friday.

Britain’s high commissioner (ambassador) to Kenya, Christian Turner, extended the invitation to Kenyatta, who is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, during a meeting with the new president this week.

A source with knowledge of the president’s affairs told Reuters that Kenyatta was planning to travel for Tuesday’s conference that aims to build support for Somalia. A diplomat also said: “The expectation is that he will go.”