The Environmental Rights Agenda/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described as heartbreaking, the impact of oil spills in communities in Ogoniland of Rivers State.
Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, disclosed this on Thursday while speaking to newsmen shortly after leading environmental right activities, community leaders and journalists on tour of oil impacted sites in Kegbara-Dere community in Gokana local government area of Rivers State.
Oil spill sites visited by the team include the abandoned Bomu Flow Station and Manifold as well as the Gbarabedom Family plantation and Kidaro Creek, all located in Kegbara-Dere community.
Ojo said: “The impact of oil spill on communities in Ogoniland is heartbreaking. We seriously wish that the President can be here and those who are defecting and decamping can come and see the enomousity of the hazards the community people are facing in their communities.
“This is a situation of where people are sentenced to death. They are dying daily and their livelihoods are being destroyed daily and their farmlands are being destroyed. There is no deprive whatsoever.
“We have seen so many creeks. We are in the creeks of K-Dere right now and you see the vast area that has been highly polluted. Shell is not in sight to conduct remediation. The people are in penury; there is no compensation.”
The ERA/FoEN boss, who called on oil giant Shell, to live up to its responsibility to remediate the Ogoni environment, advised the Federal Government not to mortgage the country at the behest of the multinational oil giant.
He said: “We are using the medium to call on Shell to live up to its responsibility and of course, the Federal Government not to mortgage the country at the behest of Shell. Federal Government should take a stronger political will to address the situation and in general, that of the Niger Delta.”
Ojo faulted the claims by the National Oil Spill Detection and Restoration Agency (NOSDRA) that the clean up of the Ogoni environment as recommended by the United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) is being hampered by illegal bunkering activities.
The Executive Director said: “What NOSDRA said is unfortunate because it is given a dog a bad name in order to hang it. We know that this conflict started because of lack of dialogue. We know that the communities were sidelined.
“Now they talk about bunkering and kpofire but we know that is not why the conflict started. We need to trace back to have a historical overview of how this conflict started. In any case, Shell and government are responsible to ensure that there is a clean up in this place.”