Response to oil spills in the Niger Delta has been marked by corruption, lack of effective communication, power struggles, and an almost total failure to adequately remedy oil spills by cleaning and restoring the environment and compensating those harmed. Decades of this failed response have bred resentment and distrust among oil-affected communities, increasing militancy and black market oil trade as a last resort path to wealth-sharing and further complicating the possibility of a successful remediation and long-term peace. 6 Oil companies, on the other hand, report that they struggle with sabotage and theft of oil, difficulties accessing spill sites, and complicated community dynamics that contribute to spills and confuse and undermine remediation efforts.
Against this backdrop, this paper outlines the principles and practical considerations by which a grievance mechanism could be establish to handle and remedy complaints from communities and persons affected by oil spill in the Niger Delta. The paper is informed by comparative research and the practical experiences of those who have – through negotiation, litigation, and other forms of recourse – sought remedy after an oil spill.