Resource Justice

Civil Society Leaders Call for Halt to Shell’s Divestment in the Niger Delta

Abuja, Nigeria – February 26, 2024 – During today’s crucial press conference at the National Assembly of Nigeria, leaders of Nigerian civil society groups unveiled a joint petition submitted to President Bola Tinubu, articulating comprehensive demands to halt Shell’s divestment from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC). This petition, endorsed by over a thousand signatures from community leaders, NGOs, scholars, and concerned individuals, underscores the grave concerns surrounding Shell’s proposed transfer of its onshore operations in SPDC to the Renaissance consortium.

Dr. Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, representing Social Action International, outlined the primary demands of the petition: “Our first and foremost demand is the immediate suspension of Shell’s divestment process until a thorough, transparent, and inclusive review is conducted. This review must address Shell’s long-standing environmental damage and social injustices inflicted upon our communities.”

Addressing the press conference, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC, stressed the importance of regulatory scrutiny, “This divestment must be subjected to the rigorous pre-conditions set forth by Nigerian law, reflecting a commitment to the environmental and resource justice that the Niger Delta peoples have long fought for. We insist that Shell must be held accountable for decades of environmental degradation and human rights violations. A transparent resolution process must be established, ensuring Shell’s full accountability before any transfer of ownership.”

Dr. Chido Onumah of AFRICMIL highlighted the petition’s demands, which include a comprehensive review of the divestment, ensuring Shell’s accountability for its historical environmental and social impacts. “Our demands reflect the urgent need for a divestment process that is transparent, involves meaningful community engagement, and guarantees fair compensation and environmental remediation,” he remarked

The press conference highlighted the critical findings of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme, both of which detail the severe health and environmental crises caused by decades of oil pollution in the region. The civil society leaders underscored the necessity of Shell contributing to an Environmental Restoration Fund aimed at addressing these crises. “We propose that Shell contributes to an Environmental Restoration Fund dedicated to the Niger Delta’s environmental restoration with transparent management and active community participation,” Dr. Onumah emphasized.

The petition urges the adoption of “National Principles for Responsible Petroleum Industry Divestment,” which includes informed, transparent, and inclusive decision-making, full disclosure of environmental liabilities, comprehensive environmental and social evaluations, and ensuring community benefits post-divestment.

“Our demands are clear, detailed, and rooted in the principles of justice and sustainability,” Jaye Gaskiya concluded. “We stand united in our call to President Tinubu and the Nigerian government to take decisive action that honours the rights, well-being, and aspirations of the Niger Delta communities.”

This press conference underscores the collective resolve of the Niger Delta communities and civic leaders in Nigeria and globally to ensure that Shell’s divestment does not proceed without addressing the critical environmental and social issues that have plagued the region for decades.

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Read Text of the Press Statement HERE

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