RESIDENTS of Otuokpoti community in Ogbia and Yenagoa Local Government Areas of Bayelsa, last week, reported a massive oil leak in Ekole Creek around Agbura and Otuokpoti communities
They said the spill resulting from the leak from an oilfield operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) destroyed farmlands and aquatic lives in the communities.
Community residents said that crude oil deposits from the spillage measured about five centimeter thick on the surface of the water.
The incident attracted residents who trooped out to scoop the flowing crude oil.
A resident of Otuokpoti community, Mrs Cecilia Osain, said the spillage had negatively affected fishing activities in the river.
According to her, those who went fishing came back with no catch as the crude oil had compelled the fishes, crayfish and shrimps away into the high seas beyond the reach of artisanal fishermen.
Osain ,who also scooped the crude, said bathing in the river was no longer safe for residents as those who did complained of itching all over their bodies.
She said that the community relied on the creek for potable water and domestic use.
Meanwhile, the people of Otuokpoti community have appealed to the government of Bayelsa State to provide relief materials to ameliorate the plight of the people.
In a letter signed by the Paramount Ruler, Chief Cousin Wongo and Chairman, Community Development Committee, Honourable Simpson Isikpi, the community noted that the spillage had polluted the entire river.
According to the letter, the incident has negatively affected the economic life of the people as the river serves as a major source of income to members of the community.
“We cannot drink water, we cannot bathe in the river, our aquatic life such as fish and animals are dying. We appeal to the relevant authorities to come to our aid” the letter read in part.
They also appealed for the immediate cleanup of the river to enable the people resume their fishing activities.
Speaking in the same vein, spokesperson of the youth wing of the Ogbia Brotherhood, Comrade Lamawal Wilfred called on operators affected pipeline to send experts to ascertain the cause of the leak.
He urged NAOC to prevent further pollution of the river which serves as their major source of water.
When the Nigerian Tribune visited the community, residents were seen scooping crude into containers, while the whole air was polluted by the gas from crude oil.
Officials of NAOC declined comments when contacted.
Mr Filippo Cotalinni, Media Relations Manager, at Eni, parent company of NAOC, has yet to respond to a request for comments on the incident.