The ruling of the United Kingdom Supreme Court yesterday paved the way for a group of 42,500 Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) in English courts after years of oil spills in the Niger Delta contaminated land and groundwater.
In a major decision that is bound to have far reaching implications for multinationals operations in their host countries, Senior judges said UK-domiciled Shell, one of the world’s biggest energy companies, did have a common law duty of care, in the latest case to test whether multinationals can be held to account for the acts of overseas subsidiaries.
The ruling comes almost two years after a seminal ruling by the Supreme Court in a case involving mining company, Vedanta. The judgment allowed nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers to sue Vedanta in England for alleged pollution in Africa.
That move was seen as a victory for rural communities seeking to hold parent companies accountable for environmental disasters. Vedanta ultimately settled out of court in January.
Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities of Rivers State allege their lives and health had suffered because repeated oil spills had contaminated the land, swamps, groundwater and waterways and that there had been no adequate cleaning or remediation.
Represented by law firm Leigh Day, they argued that Shell owed them a duty of care because it either had significant control of, and was responsible for, its subsidiary SPDC. Shell countered that the court had no jurisdiction to try the claims.
“(The ruling) also represents a watershed moment in the accountability of multinational companies. Increasingly impoverished communities are seeking to hold powerful corporate actors to account and this judgment will significantly increase their ability to do so,” Daniel Leader, partner at Leigh Day, said.
SPDC is the operator of oil pipelines in a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation which holds a 55 per cent stake, Shell which holds 30 per cent, France’s Total with 10 per cent, Italy’s Eni with 5 per cent.
A Shell spokesman said the decision was disappointing.
“Regardless of the cause of a spill, SPDC cleans up and remediates. It also works hard to prevent these sabotage spills, by using technology, increasing surveillance and by promoting alternative livelihoods for those who might damage pipes and equipment,” Shell said.
Shell has blamed sabotage for oil spills. It said in its annual report published last March that SPDC, which produces around 1 million barrels of oil per day, saw crude oil spills caused by theft or pipeline sabotage surge by 41 per cent in 2019.
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said last week that the firm would take “another hard look at its onshore oil operations” in the West African country.
The ruling is the second judgement against Shell this year regarding claims against its Nigerian operations. In a landmark Dutch ruling two weeks ago, an appeals court held Shell responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers, in a victory for environmentalists.
Leigh Day said that the amount of compensation sought would be quantified as the case enters the trial stage.
In 2015, Shell agreed to pay out 55 million pounds ($83.4 million) to the Bodo community in Nigeria in compensation for two oil spills, which was the largest ever out-of-court settlement relating to Nigerian oil spills.
EFCC to conclude auction of 435 forfeited vehicles Thursday
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday commenced the auction of 435 vehicles forfeited to the Federal Government at four different locations in Lagos.
The auction held in four Lagos locations (40, Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Cameroon Road, Ikoyi Lagos and CVU Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos) will be concluded Thursday December 08, 2022.
The exercise commenced with the inspection of items by members of the public on December 06, 2022 in Lagos and scheduled to take place across the various commands of the commission.
The exercise is said to be in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004; Public Procurement Act 2007 and the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act 2022.
Dr George Ekpungu, Secretary to the Commission and Chairman, EFCC Asset Disposal Committee, said, “The exercise is the first of the planned auction of forfeited properties across EFCC Zonal Commands and EFCC headquarters.
“It is being conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure compliance with all extant laws.”
Ekpungu, welcoming the auctioneers to the centre, expressed his gratitude to sister agencies, including the Nigerian Army, invited to provide adequate security and ensure orderliness.
He also appealed to members of the public present at the auction to listen carefully to the auctioneers and comply with all stipulated guidelines.
Nine auctioneers allocated to the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC to dispose of the cars are Rihanna Auction Limited, Kamyus Consult Limited; Areogun Resources Limited and BIS N JEG.
Others are Integrated Services Nig.Ltd; Mau & Sons Ltd; Langar Aghaji & Co; Fagobe Company Ltd and Musa Kira and Co.
The cars were allocated to auctioneers based on assessed values and open ballot system.
Pictures of the cars were displayed with allocated lot numbers for public inspection.
The display was to provide an opportunity for interested bidders to view and indicate interest in any car of their choice.
Weststar introduces all-new Mercedes C-Class, targets end-of-the-year luxury car buyers
Luxury car firm, Weststar Associates Limited, has announced the introduction of an all-new Mercedes Benz C-Class, said to be sportier and slimmer, to the Nigerian market, targeting buyers of high-end cars for the end of the year celebrations.
This was disclosed in a statement by Weststar obtained via email from the firm’s Marketing and Social Media Manager, Oluwatobi Abimbola.
Already, it said that the firm had started receiving orders for the new car from interested people in Nigeria
Weststar’s CEO, Mr Mirko Plath, was quoted as saying, “We have started receiving some big demand for the all-new C-Class in this market as many of our customers are really blown away with the new high-tech features of this vehicle; it’s also very spacious, thanks to the new long wheel base and I can assure Mercedes-Benz lovers that the driving experience is out of the world.”
The all-new C-Class is said to have the perfect combination of comfort and performance.
The car, according to Weststar, is built with the singular objective of helping people escape the stress of everyday life into a luxurious retreat, into your own comfort zone.
It states, “Being one of Mercedes-Benz’s best sellers and longest running model series, over 10.5 million Mercedes-Benz C-Class models have been delivered to customers globally since its inception in 1982.
“This all-new model generation takes things many steps further with even more digitized features as well as stunning & expressive design features.
The most prominent highlight in the all-new C-Class is most certainly the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, which is more intuitively operated and has a higher learning capacity.
“Like the new S-Class, the new C-Class is equipped with the second generation of MBUX. The vehicle interior becomes even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great strides. i.e. brilliant images on the LCD screens make it easy to control vehicle and comfort functions.”
It lists other key features of the MBUX in the new C-Class as an increasingly sharp “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant, music streaming available with the “Online Music” service; a stunning widescreen central display; Augmented Video and a fingerprint scanner for personalization of MBUX settings.
The modern and luxurious design of the all-new C-Class is said to be another standout feature.
It says, “The all-new C-Class can be described as slimmer, sportier and more stylish, featuring bold exterior accents like the power domes on the bonnet, the radiator grille with the Mercedes-Benz pattern design and flush 17- to 19-inch wheels in modern designs.
“Another key feature in the exterior design of the new C-Class is the DIGITAL LIGHT which is inherited from the S-Class, it has a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs in each headlamp that pr+-oject resolutions of more than 2.6 million pixels.”
The interior design is flushed with new surfaces and elements on the instrument panel and centre console.
It says there is a new air vent design which is reminiscent of aircraft engine nacelles and customers who go for the AMG line interior get more extra special features like the two-tone upholstery.
It’s other interior luxury features are listed as high-resolution LCD screen housing the instrument cluster, ambient lighting featuring optical fibres and the Burmester 3D surround sound system.
The driving experience in the all-new C-Class is said to come with more power and increased efficiency thanks to powerful new 4-cylinder M 254 petrol engines with outputs at 150kw/204hp – 190kw/258hp and a peak torque of 300nm – 400nm.
“These 4-cylinder engines come with mild hybrid electrified drivetrains equipped with a 48-volt integrated stater alternator (EQ Boost), the additional output of these electrified drivetrains is capped at 15kw/20hp.
“On the new C-Class the shifting is carried out smoothly with the 9GTRONIC automatic transmission.
“Also, the suspension configuration in the new C-Class provides a high level of suspension, ride and noise comfort, agile handling and driving fun, this thanks to a new four-link axle at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear mounted to a subframe.”
The all-new C-Class comes loaded with a flurry of safety and assistance systems such as the Active Steering Assist with 360° camera, Active Brake Assist, Parking Package with 360° camera and additional safety features with the Digital Light.
Weststar says the all-new C-Class is available in Nigeria with its dealerships – Barbedos Cars Limited, MB Automobile Services Limited, Skymit Motors Limited, Sunny Motors Limited and Tetralog Nigeria Limited.
Kia shines at TopGear awards, wins ‘Manufacturer of the Year’
Korea’s oldest automaker, Kia, is excited ending the year on a high, having just received the Top Gear’s Manufacturer of the Year award.
Top Gear is a British automobile magazine, owned by BBC Worldwide.
The recognition was given at the magazine’s 2022 awards, according to a statement from the Kia office in Nigeria on Wednesday.
“This is the second consecutive year that Kia has taken home a win at the TopGear.com awards; last year, the newly launched EV6 won the ‘Crossover of the Year’ category,” the statement by spokesman for Kia Nigeria, Olawale Jimoh, added.
Kia recalled that it launched several game-changing models in Europe this year – notably the fifth-generation Sportage and all-new Niro, consistently two of Kia’s best-sellers across Europe, must have influenced the choice of the brand for the award.
Both models are said to offer a major update over their predecessors in several areas, including exterior and interior design, technological advancements, and sustainability credentials.
It quoted the Editor of BBC Top Gear Magazine, Jack Rix, as saying, “Kia’s recent form is remarkable. Despite unprecedented headwinds, the upward trajectory shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, it’s getting braver. The latest Sportage is a superior family crossover in comparison to its closest competitors, the new Niro looks striking, and offers hybrid or electric versions and Kia seems to be landing on its feet when it comes to the transition to fully electric. The EV6 GT offers a 577bhp version with mind-blowing drift mode.”
President of Kia Europe, Jason Jeong, also responding, said, “This has been an outstanding year for Kia in terms of new product, brand awareness and sales. Our year-to-date market share across Europe has held strong at 5.1% over the past two months, and that success is due to our incredible electrified line-up. As we expand our electrified offering throughout 2023 and beyond, we hope to inspire more customers to make the switch and support a sustainable future for all.”
Marketing Director at Kia Europe, David Hilbert, accepted the award on behalf of Kia and said: “2022 has been a milestone year in Kia’s history where the brand became synonymous with electrification and set the new gold standard for the future of mobility. The introduction of EV6 GT was a defining moment for us as we extended our electrification leadership into the high-performance arena. Thank you to TopGear.com for naming us ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ – it is welcome recognition of the brand’s achievements so far, and we look forward to a successful 2023.”
The company says its ‘Plan S’ strategy outlines its sustainability targets, including a line-up of 14 fully-electric models by 2027.
It adds that the next model to launch will be Kia’s highly anticipated EV9, which will be revealed to the European market in 2023.
“The Kia EV9 will represent the pinnacle of what is possible with an electric SUV. Developed on the company’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the large electric SUV will usher in a new era of sophisticated, high-tech, sustainable mobility for Kia,” it states.
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