The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Nigerian government to put the brakes on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) divestment plans and ensure it pays for its environmental crimes in the Niger Delta.

This demand was informed by SPDC’s plans to sell its onshore facilities to a conglomerate of five domestic oil companies.

Shell was the pioneer of Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration since the 1930s, with hundreds of oil spills traced to its operations in host communities that continue to suffer the consequences of pollution to their environment, health, and livelihood.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Barr. Chima Williams faulted Shell for trying to run away from its crimes even with the uproar that has greeted its divestment plans in affected communities and among civil society organizations.

“As an organization that has tracked the activities of multinational oil companies for decades, we insist that the decision of Shell to sell off its onshore facilities to domestic companies and to remain in Nigeria to conduct its business offshore is a deliberate attempt to evade the liabilities the company has incurred over time. “

He also pointed out that Shell should not be allowed to abandon its onshore facilities to domestic companies without cleaning up the damage they have caused to the environment, and the cost to locals who have been impoverished by their business activities.

“These communities who have played host to Shell for decades have been left in abject poverty, with several degrees of damages to their health and environment, while Shell explores their resources to enrich foreign coffers. Shell should not be allowed to sell off its facilities and abandon the liabilities they owe these communities.”

Williams said it would be shameful that the Nigerian government would value its quest for revenue, over the lives and livelihoods of the common people who have suffered from the decades-long environmental pollution caused by Shell.

He called on President Bola Tinubu-led administration to ensure that Shell’s divestment plans are accompanied by full remediation plans in their various communities of operations and full payments of loss and damages to host communities.

He also called for a close evaluation and monitoring of Shell’s offshore operations to checkmate the scope of their activities in order to avert any impending damages to the environment.