Four Nigerian farmers have asked a Dutch court to rule that Oil company Shell poisoned their fish and farmland through poor maintenance of its pipelines.

The farmers and environmental organisation Friends of the Earth say that corroded underground pipelines polluted the fish ponds, farmland and forests in the Niger Delta.

Eric Dooh described the effect the pollution has had on his community.

"Communities in Oguniland had been badly contaminated. Some communities are deserted, like my community; Goi in Oguniland has been deserted as a result of devastation of the ecosystem and our environment. My father had four big fish farms."

Gerrit Ritsema, co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth, told the press her expectations.

"What we expect today is that outcome of this case will be that Shell is convicted for polluting the environment, for not properly maintaining its pipelines in Nigeria and for harming millions of people, polluting their drinking water, depleting their fish stocks, ruining their crops lands as a result of oil pollution."

Shell's vice president for environment Allard Castelein, said the Dutch oil giant was not to blame for the pollution, saying that thieves tapping the pipeline had caused the damage.

"We went in, we stopped the leak, we cleaned it, there is a process that involves a joint investigation, of government officials, community officials and company officials, they jointly signed off on the fact that it was caused by sabotage."

The Anglo-Dutch company has always maintained that as the incident occurred in Nigeria, it should be dealt in court there. But the farmers' lawyers argue that as Shell's actions are orchestrated from the headquarters in Holland and therefore should take place in a Dutch court. If successful, the case could have a huge factor in the future for how multinational corporations can be sued for their actions overseas.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner