The Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria(ARFAN) has threatened to drag Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) to the International Court of Justice over the BONGA Oil Spill that rocked four states of the South South, including Ondo, which they alleged forced their members out of business. This was disclosed by the National President of ARFAN, Bishop (Dr) Godknows Nifeipiri in an exclusive interview with The Newswriter at the weekend in Port Harcourt. The President who described the BONGA oil spill of December 20,2011 as the largest in recent times, frowned at the inability of Shell to identify with the communities and fishermen affected by the unfortunate incident since then. The Bishop said he regretted that two years after the incident, Shell is yet to respond to requests made by his organization for what he called “deprivation right of fishermen in the five affected states, numbering over 31,000”. The states he said are, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Ondo.
According to the ARFAN Boss, when the spill occurred, his men were ordered out of their fishing territory by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency(NOSDRA) for risk of catching contaminated fish for public consumption, during which the fishermens’ boats and gears were allegedly damaged by the pollution. This singular incident, he said rendered his members jobless. The ARFAN President said it was based on that they wrote letters to Shell to ameliorate their sufferings by way of providing them with fishing gears, boats or money, which he said Shell has not responded to till date. Dr Nifeipiri said having exhausted all peaceful moves, ARFAN will be left with no alternative other than to take the matter to the International Court to seek redress. The President however said he is still appealing to Shell to allow sense of seasoning guide their actions. He lamented that the inactivity of the fishermen has resulted to scarcity of fish in the market. He warned that Shell should not take the peaceful disposition of his men for granted, adding that fishermen can be violent, but are only relaxed due to how he has handled them.##