As at today, oil majors in Nigeria – Shell, Eni, Chevron – all have one case or another against them pending before the courts, either in Nigeria or overseas.

Surprisingly, the oil companies appear to expressly encourage these litigations as a means of resolving some disputes.

At a breakfast meeting organized by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, held in Lagos on Thursday, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, who is the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of Chevron Nigeria said the multinational oil company actually encourages these litigations.

“If there is no way the people could seek redress in the law courts, they will take the laws into their hands. So, the legal system is a civilized way of settling disputes. That should be encouraged.

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“As a matter of fact, in Chevron, we encourage dialogue in resolving civil disputes, but when dialogue fails, we advocate for rule of law. So, we encourage people to go to court.

“What we do not encourage is violence. This is because in an atmosphere of violence, there can be no meaningful progress,” said Esimaje who was represented by Manager, Communications Mr. Sola Adebawo.

According to him, Chevron has no intention of discouraging litigation against it since it does neither hinder their operations nor the development of the community.

“Litigation does not stop progress. It does not stop development. The fact that a particular community is in court with Chevron does not mean…. if they are neighbours and stakeholders, they will still have all the benefits of the courtesy that they deserve, without any prejudice to the litigations.

“So, we encourage those litigations because they are way better than the alternative which no one desires,” he said.

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Esimaje said Chevron has developed a special mechanism of social investment known as the Global Memorandum of Understanding, GMoU, which has helped it intervene in the communities it operates in and across Nigeria successfully over the past 12 years.  

Chevron, he said, does not believe in handout, noting that it has experimented with several models of social investment and now have embraced the Participatory Partnership Model which allows the community and company to work together for the benefit of the community.

He said, Chevron has, through the GMoU, invested 19.9 billion naira in community development, benefiting over 400 communities and directly benefiting over 600,000 people across Nigeria.

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