BY OBED OLUKU…..
A foremost leading environmental advocacy NGO that stands for a cleaner, better and heathy environment, Center For Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, has called on President Mohammadu Buhari, the Hon Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timiprye Silver, the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeayi Okowa, and other relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region as a matter of urgency to prevail on Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPCD) to stop Forthwith the further use of untreated hazardous chemicals in Sokebolou and Yokiri Waterways of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The National Coordinator of CEPEJ Comrade Mulade Sheriff who stated this in Abuja said, our attention was drawn to the ugly menace and investigation carried out clearly showed that SPDC deposited some unnamed dangerous hazardous chemical into Sokebolou, Yokiri Obotobo 1 & 2, and other communities’ waterways at Ogulagha Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, which is currently constituting serious health hazards to the people and has also led to the destruction of aquatic organisms living in the waterways.
According to the information gathered from some of the leaders of the communities, among which are, Prince Churchill Dose, chairman Sokebolou community and Engr. Moses Ibilou, chairman Yokiri community, “they stated that the deadly chemicals were deposited by SPDC Jack-up rig operations activities at its WELL 73 and has resulted in the death of fishes and other aquatic organisms. The leaders also stated that their lives are no longer safe in the communities as their people are coming down with complex health challenges due to the chemical.
The community representatives noted that “the chemical is killing fishes in their waterways and more frightening is that the people from within and other areas are coming to Sokebolou, Yokiri and Obotobo 1 & 2 communities waterways to pick-up fishes killed by the said dangerous unknown chemical deposited by SPDC operations within the communities.”
CEPEJ is using this medium to call on the Federal, State Government, NOSDRA, NESREA, and other relevant environmental experts and environmental regulatory bodies of both States and Federal Government to call and order SPDC to stop the illegal environmental pollution through the release of this unknown deadly chemical into the territorial waters.
That SPDC should take immediate action to avoid further spread and provide relief materials to the affected communities immediately to cushion their suffering. CEPEJ also calls on those in charge of health related agencies to access the impact of the chemicals on the environment, the inhabitants and the aquatic animals through environmental social impact assessment to ascertain the level of damage done to the people and the area.
CEPEJ noted that such callous action from SPDC on already annihilated people through the desperate pollution and killing of aquatic animals and desecration of waterways with such harmful chemical deserve adequate compensation to the affected communities. The level of compensation should be in line with the level of damage from the assessment to be carried out.
CEPEJ also strongly advised that critical stakeholders as stated above and others should take urgent step in conducting Environmental Impact Accessment (EIA) through Joint investigative Visit (JIV) comprising of SPDC top management, Community Representatives, NOSDRA and other regulatory Agencies of both State and Federal Government to ascertain the negative effect of the chemical, because failure to do this may result in health problems arising from bioaccumulation through food chain to humans in the nearest future and it may impinge life on the community residents and its environs.
In furtherance of our advocacy mantra, quest for justice and peace at all times, we are obliged to inform and place on notice our high and revered governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Delta State Government and all agencies mentioned in this publication for a speedy action from the perpetrator of this heinous crime against our law and abiding communities as CEPEJ will not hesitate to institute a suit against SPDC if deaf ears are paid to the communities affected.
The Center request that the issue be properly addressed, SPDC should not be divisive, they should be humane and shun their divide and rule tactics against the communities because the future of the Niger Delta Environment is at stake.