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3 Feb 2022

Nigeria: Communities accuse British based law firm of short changing them; includes company response

‘Bodo Vs Shell: Over 14,000 Beneficiaries Accuse British Lawyer of Underhand Dealings in £55m Oil Spill Compensation’

Bodo community in Rivers State has accused its British Solicitor and Senior Partner, Leigh Day & Co, Mr. Martyn Day, of short-changing over 14,000 beneficiaries in the £55 million compensation paid by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 2015. The community in over a dozen correspondences between its representatives and the lawyer, copies of which were obtained by THISDAY, noted that as much as £30 million paid to the lawyer for further disbursement to the impacted residents remains unaccounted for. Furthermore, the oil-producing Ogoni community noted that all efforts to ensure that Leigh Day makes available the documents, including the bank instruction as well as receipts used in making the payments hit a brick wall.

…In one of the official communication from the Bodo Council of Chiefs and Elders, signed by the Chairman, Chief John Vilola and Vice President, Chief Bernard Kiate, among others, the community leaders expressed frustration over the turn of events. The Ogoni leaders pointed out that as individual claimants and as Bodo Council of Chiefs, the group that was recognised as party to the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), it was concerned about the incomplete and inaccurate payment of the settlement sums arising from the claim. “Rather than deal with substantive issue of the allegations against your firm, you have sought to hide behind spurious legal arguments.

…“Our clients are keen to resolve these matters swiftly. As soon they have ascertained that they have received their full entitlement in relation to the Bodo oil spillage case. They want closure and wish to move on with their lives. “They take the view that since Leigh Day has been fully compensated for the work undertaken in this case, they are entitled to the requested documents under UK laws and regulations. “Therefore, if LD are unable to produce or share any of the requested documents above, they should make clear in each instance of refusal reasons for either not wanting or being able to do so,” another letter written by the new lawyers to the community, Samuel & Co Solicitors, noted.