Two Nigerian communities, traumatised family sue energy company Shell over medical negligence
The giant oil company Shell have been sued for contaminating water through spillage while its clinic could be facing charges over damaging the life of a then healthy young man who is now reportedly paralysed among other disturbing conditions.
Thousands of people in the Bille and Ogale communities of Rivers State, Nigeria, are suffering from contaminated water and environmental damage caused by regular oil spills in the Niger Delta Global Citizen has reported.
The communities blame fossil fuel giant Shell for the pollution and have taken the company to court in the UK. They are demanding that Shell clean up the pollution and compensate them for the loss of their livelihoods.
Despite announcing record profits of $40 billion in 2022, Shell argues that the communities lack legal standing and that the spills occurred too long ago for compensation claims.
The law firm Leigh Day represents over 13,000 claimants from Bille and Ogale, highlighting the significance of the case and the impact of environmental damage on these communities.
Another case that is of much importance to Nigerians and to the world at large at the moment is one between a Nigerian family who have sued Shell Nigeria for tempering with the actual diligence of providing proper health care through their clinic.
Emeka Okoli and his wife Stella’s search for justice and dignity continues as they pursue legal action against Shell Nigeria after a botched surgery that left their son in a prolonged coma. The Okoli family took their 10-year-old son, Chinazam, to a Shell clinic in Port Harcourt for what should have been a routine appendicitis surgery in September 2016-an operation the doctor on duty promised not to go beyond 30 minutes. However, the procedure did not go as planned, and Chinazam has remained hospitalized for seven years according to a report by Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ).
The Okolis faced numerous challenges and frustrations throughout their ordeal. They experienced a lack of communication from the medical staff, witnessed confusion among doctors regarding their son’s condition, and discovered that Chinazam had slipped into a coma without their knowledge. Shell kept Chinazam in their clinic’s ICU for an extended period and later transferred him to South Africa instead of a more specialized facility. These actions violated Shell’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of individuals, as outlined in their policy.
Chinazam’s father, Emeka Okoli, relentlessly fought for his son’s transfer to a specialized rehabilitation facility in the United States, citing the importance of quality care in patient recovery. However, Shell delayed approving the relocation, demonstrating a disregard for Chinazam’s well-being.
Despite Shell’s promise to investigate the surgery, they have refused to release the report to the Okoli family, further violating patient and family rights. The denial of access to the report has added to the family’s anguish and the lack of closure they seek.
The Okoli family’s lives have been profoundly affected by this tragedy. Stella Okoli, Chinazam’s mother, had to abandon her other children to care for him, while Emeka has lost his freedom and struggles with chronic back pain. Closure remains elusive, and the family continues to fight for justice and dignity.
According to the Okoli’s as highlighted by FIJ, Shell has been obstructive during court proceedings and has failed to reach a resolution with the family. Meanwhile, Chinazam remains in the hospital, and the Okolis remain determined to seek justice and proper care for their son.