The multinational must prioritize human lives over business in Nigeria, where oil spills have caused untold damage, Isa Sanusi has told RT

British energy giant Shell should not be allowed to sell its onshore assets in Nigeria until it properly addresses the environmental damages its decades of oil spills have caused in the Niger Delta region, human rights advocate Isa Sanusi told RT in an interview on Tuesday.

Sanusi, the director of Amnesty International in the West African country, accused the Nigerian government of standing by and doing nothing while Shell destroyed thousands of livelihoods through oil pollution, a problem which has persisted for over half a century.

“What we’re talking about is the legacy of decades as far back as the 1960s and up to now, a legacy of devastation, destruction of livelihood, spills after spills of oil in… the ocean, and many other damages that have actually affected the entire life cycle of those people,” he told RT.

The European multinational has been operating in what is today Africa’s largest economy for over 80 years, weathering multiple controversies and environmental disasters, having pioneered the country’s oil and gas industry in 1937.

In January, the firm, which has been embroiled in long-running legal battles over environmental pollution, announced it had reached an agreement with Renaissance Group, a consortium of five companies, to sell its assets in Nigeria in a deal worth $2.4 billion.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, are demanding that the Nigerian government, which is required to approve the sale, ensure that Shell makes a clear commitment to addressing “environmental injustice.”

“The government has not done the right thing over the years, and that is why we are afraid that this transaction can go through unless we talk more and draw attention from the international community and everyone to know that there is a liability,” Sanusi said.

“There shouldn’t be a prioritization of business over the lives of human beings,” he added.