Chevron Nigeria Ltd has been dragged before the Federal High Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo capital for allegedly denying inhabitants of Ikorigho Seaside Community in Ilaje Local Government Area their lawful rights since the company began operations in the community five decades ago.
Members of Ikorigho community in a statement on oath in the suit no: FHC/AK/CS/85/2013 filed before Justice O. Onanuga, claimed that due to the enabling law granted Chevron to carry out crude oil explorations , several shots of dynamites were released which led to the discovering of several oils wells.
They added that this coupled with large quantities of hydrocarbon have resulted in ‘severe’ environmental pollution of aquatic lives within the low water mark of Ikorigho seaside community.
The plaintiff consequently sought the sum of over N165bn from the defendant, (Chevron) as adequate compensation for the rights suffered by the community due to the crude oil exploration and gas flaring.
Counsel to the seaside community, Rotimi Jacob, while tendering the statement before the court, said the activities of Chevron Limited had greatly affected the fishing and other rights of the plaintiffs particularly within the low water.
The plaintiff said the oil wells together with the flare stations were concentrated within the community which now form part of the low water mark of a natural fishing ground for fishermen.
He lamented that fishing in the area could no longer be effectively carried out owing to the disturbances caused by the various wells, blockade and other dangers due to Chevron operations.
The plaintiffs told the court that the effect of the pollution caused by digging and laying of oil pipelines to link various oil wells together with the gas flaring would last for over 40 years before fishing activities could resume fully.
The statement reads “Plaintiffs contend that as a result of the said exploration and exploitation activities of crude oil by the defendant, Ikorigho community which from time out of human memory has always been at the seaside has been relocated into the inter land for about four times now in order to be at a distance from the said flow station due to oil mining activities.
“Consequently, the Plaintiffs in order to sustain their lives have quickly resorted to the buying of sachet can water from various trader who now make sufficient gains on the people of Ikorigho as a result of the supply of water from distance places between 50 and 80 kilometers from Ikorigho.
“The overall effect of the defendant activities is the death of numerous members of Ikorigho Seaside Communities as their only means of livelihood have been affected and many of inhabitants have become sick as a result of malnutrition.”
The plaintiffs maintained that the oil company had woefully failed to implement the mandatory provisions of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining, NMM, Act in favour of the Ikorigho Community.
In its reaction, counsel to Chevron Limited, Sam Agbamuje prayed the court for the adjournment of the case for him to gather all his witnesses in the case.
Justice Onanuga consequently adjourned the matter to January 24 and 25, 2018 for conclusion of defence.
Chevron, a private company, was incorporated in accordance with the laws of Nigeria has its head office in Lagos and specialised in crude oil explorations and activities, had since 1964 been operating in Ikorigho community.