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Chevron gets adjournment to gather witnesses in suit with Ondo community

At the resumed hearing of suit filed by Chief Rotimi Jacobs on behalf of Ikorigho Community, a riverine settlement in Ondo State over environmental hazards in an Akure federal High Court, counsel to Chevron Nigeria Limited, Sam Agbamuje, prayed and secured adjournment for him to gather all his witnesses in the case.

Accordingly, Justice O. Onanuga consequently adjourned the case to January 24 and 25, 2018 for conclusion of defence.

The coastal Community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State had sued the oil giant for allegedly denying its inhabitants their lawful rights since the company began operation in the community 50 years ago.

The statement on oath by Ikorigho community in suit no: FHC/AK/CS/85/2013 before Justice O. Onanuga, noted 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.

The community claimed that this, together with large quantities of hydrocarbon according to the statement led to ‘severe’ environmental pollution of aquatic lives within the low water mark of Ikorigho seaside community.

In the plaintiff further prayers, the community sought the sum of over N165b from the defendant, (Chevron) as adequate compensation for the rights suffered by the community due to the crude oil exploration and gas flailing. Chevron had since 1964 operating in Ikorigho community.

Key arguments of the community include negative impacts of Chevron activities on their fishing and other rights within the low water.

Ikorigho community averred that the oil wells together with the flair stations were concentrated within the community which now form part of the low water mark of a natural fishing ground for fishermen.

Chief Jacobs further lamented that fishing in the area could not be effectively carried out again as a result of the disturbances poised by the various wells, blockade and other dangers due to Chevron operation.

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 plaintiff argued that the defendant had woefully failed to implement the mandatory provisions of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining (NMM) Act in favour of Plaintiffs Ikorigho Community.

Chevron is expected to flag off defence from January 24, next year on the resumed hearing.