The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja has held that it has jurisdiction to entertain a case brought by the Registered Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Federal Government and six oil companies over alleged violation of human rights and associated oil pollution in the Niger Delta.

However, while the Court held that the Nigerian government and its body, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) can be held accountable for human rights violations in the Niger Delta, the Court declined jurisdiction against Chevron Oil Nigeria PLC; Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC); Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd; Exxon Mobil Corporation, Agip Nigeria PLC; and Total Nigeria PLC.

In the ruling number ECW/CCJ/APP/07/10 delivered on the UN Human Rights Day, 10 December 2010, the Court held that, “The Federal Government of Nigeria signed the ECOWAS Treaty as well as other community instruments like the Protocols on Democracy and Good Governance and on the Competence of the Community Court of Justice. Therefore, there is no doubt with respect to the jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate any case of alleged violation of human rights that occur in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and for which it should be held accountable.”

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