Akwa Ibom oil communities set for protest, fault NOSDRA’s report on oil spill by ExxonMobil
Restive youths drawn from the oil-producing communities of Akwa Ibom State has reacted angrily to the recent report by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), pointing out that its findings on June 6, 2020, crude spill by ExxonMobil’s offshore facility was not comprehensive.
Under the aegis of a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Development Network (AKIPCON), the youths faulted a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report of NOSDRA, noting that “the report failed to cover essential factors including the quantum of spillage, impacts of the spill, locations, cause of the spill, and impacts on the people and their livelihoods.”
The President General of AKIPCON, Dr Ufot Phenson, and the Secretary-General of the group, Evangelist Emmanuel Bassey, in a statement in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, on Thursday, said: “The youths are ready for another round of protests if the anomalies are not addressed.”
The statement explained that “The said Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report has failed to comply with the agency’s established template to determine the estimated quantity of crude oil spilt, identify in specific terms the locations and extent of the spill, cause of the spill, the impact of the spill on the people’s means of livelihood.”
According to the statement, “The spill affected many fishing settlements and communities as well as the adjoining coastal Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State including Atlantic ocean shorelines in Ibeno Local Government Area spanning several kilometres with attendant damage to the environment, including the biodiversity, water resources, fishery resources, socio-economic losses with human rights implications.”
“AKIPCON observed with total dismay and disappointment the manner in which the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in Akwa Ibom state has failed to carry out its core mandates of remediation and damage assessment for the purpose of ensuring sustainable environment and payment of compensation to oil spills victims in oil-producing communities in the State by oil companies.
“The group lamented further that “This unfortunate development is one of the major factors responsible for the denials of the peasant fishermen and farmers in the oil-producing communities of their rights for payment of compensation to alleviate their sufferings.
“National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) according to its Establishment Act of 2011 is vested with the statutory responsibility of coordinating the management of oil spill incident with respect to clean-up, remediation and damage assessment.
“The Agency in Akwa Ibom State which is supposed to restore and preserve the environment by ensuring best oil field, storage and transmission practices in exploration, production and use of oil to achieve sustainable development and peace in oil-producing areas of the State in particular and Niger Delta in general, is focusing on only one aspect of their job being oil spill detection leaving other important aspects of their mandate to suffer,” the statement stressed.
It noted that ‘The failure of NOSDRA and other regulatory agencies to initiate remediation and damage assessment for the purpose of ensuring sustainable environment and payment of compensation to the oil spill victims by oil companies, described damage assessment as a necessary process for gathering information on the extent of damage to the environment, economic trees, crops, socio-economic losses, fishery resources, and so on.”
According to AKIPCON, NOSDRA did not carry out damage assessment which provides necessary information on the extent of spill damage to the environment and, therefore, demanded that “NOSDRA carry out mandatory damage assessment in this case, without delay, otherwise, AKIPCON members in the 31 Local Government Areas of the state will embark on mass protest in Uyo, Ibeno, Eket and other oil-producing communities to compel NOSDRA to carry out their statutory responsibility of remediation and damage assessment occasioned by the recent Exxon Mobil oil spills.”
The protest, AKIPCON explained, is to also press on the oil companies to pay compensation to the victims of oil spills, gas flaring and other forms of hydrocarbon pollution suffered by the indigenes of Akwa Ibom State.