The people of Iwherekan community in Ughelli South Local Government of Delta State has appealed to the federal and state governments to protect them from the devastating gas flaring which has been going on for 40 years now in their community despite court order that it should be stopped.
At a recent community engagement on “Advancing the need for environmental justice” driven by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa(), Iwherekan community leaders lamented long years of neglect by both the government and oil companies.
Mr. Gbemre Jonah who led the community leaders noted the rising incident of health challenges in the community, poverty and regretted that they was no proper health centre to investigate some of the challenges
They also lamented the poor yields from their farms and that currently food crops like bananas which was common in the community did not grow any longer resulting to poor living conditions for most of the people in the community
Mr Olamide Martins said the engagement was an opportunity for the community to again highlight their plight so that the attention of the relevant authorities would be drawn to the community for immediate action as well as bring the world’s attentions to the deplorable situation in the community
It will be recalled that about 11 years ago, the Iwherekan community won a class action suit instituted against the Nigerian government for its failure to stop Shell gas flaring for decades
The applicant argues that Shell failed to consider the environmental impact of its activities on the communities’ means of livelihood, collective survival, as well as the gas flaring contribution to the adverse and potentially life-threatening effects of climate change.
They claimed that such gas flaring activities violated the community’s rights to life and human dignity as constitutionally guaranteed by sections 33 and 34 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, and reinforced by Articles 4, 16, and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ratified and domesticated by Nigeria as Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004).
The Federal Hight Court held that these constitutionally guaranteed rights inevitably include the rights to a clean, poison and pollution free environment. The Judge ruled that the actions of the respondents in allowing continuous gas flaring in the applicant’s community is a violation of their fundamental rights to a clean and healthy environment.
The judge further ruled that Shell’s failure to carry out an EIA is a clear violation of the EIA Act and a violation of said rights. The Judge’s ordered them to take immediate steps to stop gas flaring. The Judge further ordered the Attorney General of Nigeria to ensure speedy amendment of the Associated Gas Re-injection Act to be in line with Nigeria’s human rights obligations under both the Constitution and the African Charter. The Judge made no award of damages, costs, or compensation.