Ijaw Leaders Warn Oil Companies, Condemn Increase In Pollution

……in order to promptly address and rectify the environmental degradation in the state.

By Ebilade Moscow, Lagos

A collective of Ijaw interest groups and other important participants in the environmental sector have called on President Bola Tinubu and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State to enact a comprehensive environmental remediation program for the Niger Delta region.

In a statement released in Lagos, the leaders have appealed to the government of Bayelsa State to collaborate with relevant organizations in order to promptly address and rectify the environmental degradation in the state.

Furthermore, they have urged the respective authorities of major oil companies operating in Nigeria to thoroughly investigate the environmental pollution caused by these corporations and take appropriate measures to penalize them.

“The Bayelsa State Government, the Federal Government, the Ministers of Petroleum and Environment, and the regulators (NOSDRA particularly) that have brushed aside and overlooked this dangerous and destructive pollution slowly killing people in the region and desecrating the ecosystem now have a core duty and responsibility to bring this environmental genocide to an immediate stop.”

The coalition additionally advocated for strict penalties, such as the revocation of rights of way and land leases for operational sites where repeated or severe environmental violations occur.

“In the four years of waiting for the Commission’s Report, the state government appears to have done little or nothing in combating the scourge which kept occurring not only routinely as usual but also in outrageous dimensions on several occasions. Agip’s facilities drenched Lasukugbene and its surroundings with crude oil for weeks in 2021. Conoil callously spewed oil and gas repeatedly for extended periods in the Akassa axis in the same year. Shell has not only soaked Ikarama Community in spills during the period but has had NOSDRA issue clean up certificates for sites that still contain ponds of spilled oil. And the Aiteo Group that took over some oilfields and facilities in allegedly hazardous states from Shell was host of the catastrophic Santa Barbara Oilfield blowout that lasted for 5-6 weeks in 2021. The lack of any serious signal or action by the state government on any of these disasters or at the launch of the BSOEC Report is quite disappointing.”

“This is no time for tepid speeches, platitudes and promises but a time for action by the state government. The Bayelsa people and communities will be served well if the government can immediately demonstrate to the international environmental community government’s commitment to immediately take remedial action, rather than mere endless talk without actions and policies of consequence that will be instantly and critically felt by pollution culprits, devastated communities and the entire chain of local and global stakeholders.”.

The statement was signed by the Secretary, Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Lagos, Mr Efiye Bribena; Moderator, Ijaw Nation Forum, Mr Ben Okoro; BOT Chairman, Embasara Foundation Chief Amagbe D. Kentebe; BOT Chairperson, Ijaw Women Connect (IWC) Ms Annkio Briggs, President, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) Lagos, Mr Pattison Boleigha; President, Homeland Chapter Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) Hon. Iniruo Wills; President, Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) Prof. Mondy Selle-Gold, the Programme Manager/Head, ERA Niger Delta Resource Centre, Yenagoa, Alagoa Morris and Chairman, Bayelsa NGOs Forum, Kemedengiyefa Opia; Mr Lanre Suraju urged Diri to appoint and capacitate a Bayelsa State Special Counsel on Environmental Justice Enforcement, with adequate provisioning and periodic public reporting obligations.

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